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Nader sues Democratic Party for conspiring against democracy
October 31, 2007 2:07 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday, Ralph Nader sued the Democratic Party for conspiring to prevent him from running for president in 2004. The lawsuit alleges that defendants used “groundless and abusive litigation” to bankrupt Ralph Nader’s campaign and force him off the ballot in 18 states, and names as co-defendants the Kerry-Edwards campaign, the Service Employees International Union, private law firms, and organizations like the Ballot Project and America Coming Together that were created to promote voter turnout on behalf of the Democratic ticket. According to attorney Carl Mayer from the team that filed the suit, interviewed this morning by Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman, "what this lawsuit will do, and the importance of it is, is to set a precedent so that the two-party monopoly system that shuts out minor parties in a way that other Western democracies never do, that this will set a precedent to prevent this type of intimidation and harassment."
posted by finite (236 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Can we counter-sue for Nader taking votes away from Gore?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:12 PM on October 31, 2007


No.
posted by finite at 2:12 PM on October 31, 2007


So... any merit?
posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on October 31, 2007


No.

eponysterical
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:14 PM on October 31, 2007


Can we counter-sue for Nader taking votes away from Gore?

Only if we can sue Gore for taking votes from Nader. And for the record, Buchanan took more electoral votes away from Bush than Nader did from Gore. And who knows how many people turned away from Lieberman. Let's sue him for being batshit insane. What the Dems did to Nader in 2004 was an embarassment although I doubt this lawsuit is going to have much of an impact on the party system.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:14 PM on October 31, 2007


Carl Mayer is the same guy that sued Belichick and the Patriots a few months ago.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:14 PM on October 31, 2007


Merits aside...Nader can go Fuck himself.

No difference between Bush and Gore my ass



I'll go rant somewhere else now thank you...

posted by slapshot57 at 2:17 PM on October 31, 2007 [7 favorites]


Nader needs to sue himself for character assassination.
posted by billypilgrim at 2:19 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


I have never agreed more with slapshot57.
posted by found missing at 2:19 PM on October 31, 2007


Gore wasn't running in 2004.
posted by finite at 2:20 PM on October 31, 2007


He's just bitter that he didn't come close to matching Ross Perot. Or George Wallace. Or even John Anderson!
posted by loquax at 2:22 PM on October 31, 2007


Gore wasn't running in 2004.

Yeah, and you know why? Because he wasn't the incumbent president as he was supposed to be. Thank you, Nader.
posted by found missing at 2:23 PM on October 31, 2007


It's mind blowing just how corrupt elections in the US are.
posted by chunking express at 2:23 PM on October 31, 2007


What's good for the cheating Republican goose is good for the cheating Democratic gander.

It's still a bit silly, though.
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:24 PM on October 31, 2007


""what this lawsuit will do, and the importance of it is, is to set a precedent so that the two-party monopoly system that shuts out minor parties in a way that other Western democracies never do, that this will set a precedent to prevent this type of intimidation and harassment." "


YEEEAAAAARRRGH!

A WINNER-TAKE-ALL ELECTORAL SYSTEM PREDICTS A TWO PARTY ESTABLISHMENT! THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OUR SYSTEM AND MOST OTHER WESTERN DEMOCRACIES. YOUR LAWSUIT CANNOT CHANGE THIS! DIE! DIE! DIE!
posted by klangklangston at 2:25 PM on October 31, 2007 [8 favorites]


Yeah, and you know why? Because he wasn't the incumbent president as he was supposed to be. Thank you, Nader.

Thank you, lockbox.
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:25 PM on October 31, 2007


Ralph Nader once again doing all he can to help the Republicans.

I wish that he were here right now so that I could spit on him.

Furthermore, I wish that everyone who has died as a result of the Iraq war were still alive so that they could spit on him, too.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:25 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


And people bitter that Gore lost because of Nadar need to get over themselves. If Gore couldn't beat Bush on his own merits then that's not Nadar's problem. The electoral system in the US is fucked up. People need to call it out.
posted by chunking express at 2:25 PM on October 31, 2007 [4 favorites]


Poor Ralph Nader. He's basically correct in what he says, but he is so stubborn and egotistical that he is increasingly difficult to take seriously. He keeps confusing "we the people" with "me the people."
posted by googly at 2:27 PM on October 31, 2007 [7 favorites]


After what he did to the 2000 elections, I'd hardly complain if somebody stapled Nader's ass to the upholstery of a '63 Corvair and took him for a long drive in the country.

As much a "threat to democracy" as the two-party monopoly might be, the slack-jawed fascist he helped put in the Oval Office is infinitely worse. I hope this lawsuit bankrupts him and every last goddamned *PIRG.
posted by felix betachat at 2:27 PM on October 31, 2007


It might be worth noting in passing that Ralphy, a staunch supporter of rights and legalities, does not allow unions in his own organization and give no benefits to those he employs.

Ralph has the appealing message that corporations are destructive of this and that and yet he offers no plan for what he would do to make things better. In fact, it is lobby and interest groups that cripple legislation, and this sort of thing remains legal. Would he rid our system of this? If so, when and where has he proposed this idea?
posted by Postroad at 2:29 PM on October 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


Nader can suck a bag of dicks.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:29 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Insert obligatory joke about American democracy reaching its "nader" in 2000 ======> here.
posted by googly at 2:30 PM on October 31, 2007


YEEEAAAAARRRGH!

Dean?
posted by dismas at 2:31 PM on October 31, 2007


yeah there is a difference between Gore/Kerry and Bush, but I think it is more a difference of personality rather than a difference of party. I do think there are differences between the GOP and the Dems, but not huge ones. I will be shocked, shocked I say, if when the democrats win the presidential election (this time or down the road) they overturn the majority of things Bush has set up. Clinton herself has already taken a page out of the Bush camps media control playbook by several restricting unscripted media access. Both parties like to use "free speech zones", Obama has been making some good noise about Net neutrality etc but (as of right now) the most he's getting is a VP slot and that's not a guarantee.
Nader is a nuisance for a lot of people, and people hate that so they get all angry and stuff at him, but I tell you he is more trustworthy then 98% of the political field out there and his message about 2 party domination is true.
posted by edgeways at 2:33 PM on October 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


FWIW, I am not a Nader supporter, but I believe that 3rd (and 4th, 5th, 6th, etc) political parties are very important and that something is very wrong when people expect them to just go away. If you disagree, and think 3rd parties should get out of the way of the big dogs, please at least RTFA before posting about why. Thanks.

On preview, wow, I had no idea there would be this much hate! Please, Gore fans, also read this comment I just favorited about our pal Al. He conceded early! Where is the outrage about that?

And again, this lawsuit is about the 2004 election!
posted by finite at 2:35 PM on October 31, 2007


Congress has enough evidence for an impeachment inquiry.
posted by homunculus at 2:36 PM on October 31, 2007


The lawsuit is about the 2004 election, the hate is residual.
posted by found missing at 2:36 PM on October 31, 2007


The electoral system in the US is fucked up. People need to call it out.

Generally, electoral reform doesn't involve being complicit in handing over the reins of power to maniacs.
posted by Pants! at 2:39 PM on October 31, 2007


So pants!, no liberal candidate should have run in the 2000 election? That's kind of stupid.
posted by chunking express at 2:42 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


And yeah, I think Nadar is a bit of a dick, but dick or not, you should be allowed to run for president.
posted by chunking express at 2:42 PM on October 31, 2007


Pants! said Generally, electoral reform doesn't involve being complicit in handing over the reins of power to maniacs.

You're talking about Gore's complicity now, right? 'Cause, you read the comment I linked to above?
posted by finite at 2:44 PM on October 31, 2007


Don't blame me. I voted for Kodos!

The two party system must die. And if this lawsuit somehow puts another nail in the coffin of the fact that in the US we get one more choice than a totalitarian state then good on Nader.
posted by quadog at 2:52 PM on October 31, 2007


What did Ralph Nader do to elicit so much hate? Other than run for president, something which is entirely within his rights to do. Democrats should have a compelling enough platform such that they don't have to worry about challenges from the left.
posted by c*r at 2:54 PM on October 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


Christ what an asshole.
posted by jonson at 2:56 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't blame Nader for the 2000 election; I blame the SCOTUS.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:56 PM on October 31, 2007 [4 favorites]


My vote for Nader would never have went to Gore, so the premise is faulty. Indeed, that arrogant sense of entitlement (it's Gore's rightful vote) is anathema to the Democratic party.

Oh, and do I have your permission to vote for someone other than Hillary? Or is she "entitled" as well?
posted by RavinDave at 2:58 PM on October 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


I believe that 3rd (and 4th, 5th, 6th, etc) political parties are very important

I wish I could. Given the spoils system, entrenched fundraising machinery and everything on up, any political party outside the main two is hopelessly irrelevant.
posted by psmealey at 2:59 PM on October 31, 2007


Wow, that comment really shows that someone on the internet is upset with Al Gore. I concede, I was wrong to ever doubt you. Sorry about that.

All kidding aside, of course the two party system sure does suck. However, it's what we have. Trying to run from the right or left to prove a point only undermines the actual ability of people, who may agree with half of what you think is important, to win the electoral college and actually be in power for four years.
posted by Pants! at 3:01 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


If this works we'll eat like kings!
posted by mecran01 at 3:04 PM on October 31, 2007


Man, are people still trotting out "It's okay to throw away your vote on some no-hoper because Democrats and Republicans are exactly the same"?

Have these people not watched the news in the last years or something?
posted by Artw at 3:04 PM on October 31, 2007


Can we counter-sue for Nader taking votes away from Gore?

Yeah! Everyone knows those votes were the personal property of the Democratic party, Not only is it your requirement to vote for the Democrats or Republicans, if you don't, you're a thief. Stealing their god given right to your vote.
posted by delmoi at 3:04 PM on October 31, 2007 [9 favorites]


Fuck him.

I blame Nader directly for Bush winning both elections. The margin was narrow enough that the votes he stole cost the Democrats the election. If he didn't run in 2000, the margin would have been enough that there wouldn't have been a need for a recount.
posted by mike3k at 3:07 PM on October 31, 2007


“What did Ralph Nader do to elicit so much hate? Other than run for president...”

He didn't just run for President, his message was that there was no difference between Gore and Bush and that, consequently, anyone who worried that voting for him would take away votes for Gore were irrational, because insofar as that was true, it didn't matter if Bush or Gore won.

To put it differently, if it were just a matter of voting one's conscience, then whether or not Bush and Gore were similar was pretty much irrelevant. Nader was very different from both of them—it didn't matter if they were like each other. So he didn't need to make that explicit argument, he could have just said that they were both far to his right.

But arguing that there was no difference between them was an argument implicitly aimed at those potential Nader supporters who worried about strategic voting concerns—those that recognized Nader's chances of winning were very small and thus their vote for him would affect the outcome of the race between Bush and Gore. The message was saying, "don't worry about that, it doesn't matter which of them wins if I don't".

And, obviously (or at least it's obvious to most of us), it did matter quite a bit because there's a huge difference between Bush and Gore.

Basically, claiming that there was no difference between Bush and Gore is a lie of such magnitude, both in its denial of reality and in its consequences, that it matches the damage and egregiousness of anything Bush has said.

That's why some of us hate him. He's a demagogue who put his own ego ahead of what was best for the US and lied about it in the process. So, fuck him.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:08 PM on October 31, 2007 [25 favorites]


I blame idiot Americans who voted for Bush for his winning. And then they did it again. Awesome!

I love American "democracy": You can vote for this dude, or that dude, but no one else or it all falls apart.
posted by chunking express at 3:10 PM on October 31, 2007 [10 favorites]


or, mike3k, Gore could have won his own state...that may have put him over the top. But, yes, lets talk about those stolen votes Nader took away, the bastard.
posted by rockhopper at 3:11 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


It killed me when Bush won in 2000. And untold numbers of others in the literal sense.
And when he was reelected in 04 I was dumbfounded. But blaming R N is flat out wrong. Yeah. I wish he had never run. But he had a right to present his views.
It was the electorate who chose Bush not once but twice. How about directing the vitriol towards the electorate and the flawed two party system.
It will all happen again if the problems (caged electronic voting machines? Party controlled local election boards? Gerrymandered districts? Just to name a few.) are not seriously addressed.
posted by notreally at 3:12 PM on October 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


Whatever residue of sympathy I had for Nader is gone.
posted by aerotive at 3:13 PM on October 31, 2007


Dear Ralph,

STFU.

Sincerely,

Everyone (but you, apparently)
posted by tommasz at 3:17 PM on October 31, 2007


My vote for Nader would never have went to Gore, so the premise is faulty. Indeed, that arrogant sense of entitlement (it's Gore's rightful vote) is anathema to the Democratic party.

Oh, and do I have your permission to vote for someone other than Hillary? Or is she "entitled" as well?


Nobody here is saying you didn't have the right to vote for Nader. Just that, by doing so, you own a little piece of the Iraq war, not to mention all the other bullshit that's gone down.

That sense of moral rectitude in the face of all evidence to the contrary (not to mention your inability to conjugate the verb "to go" properly) is characteristic for your tribe. Damn everything else, at least I was right. Face it...you weren't. Lots of people are dead because you and your shaggy-pitted ilk decided to cast your protest votes. That was your democratic right (pray that it always be so), just as it's mine to say that you're an irresponsible person who has abetted the cause of tyranny.
posted by felix betachat at 3:19 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


hmm, he left out Hank Aaron's Bat
posted by arialblack at 3:20 PM on October 31, 2007


For fuck's sake people. I'm scarred that there are people here who wanted Joe Lieberman to have that much power and that they have the gall to blame others for Iraq. Gore/Lieberman was not a peace ticket by any means and for all you know, we could be in Iran by now.

More importantly, Nader and his supporters have nothing to do with why Bush is in power. Blame the millions of Americans who voted for Bush and blame the millions of Gore voters who couldn't get their friends and family to show up.
posted by allen.spaulding at 3:24 PM on October 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


On preview, wow, I had no idea there would be this much hate! Please, Gore fans, also read this comment I just favorited about our pal Al. He conceded early! Where is the outrage about that?

Well, he later revoked his concession, it hardly makes a difference, if he had won the recount, he still would have been elected. What happened here is that Kathrine Harris and Jeb Bush conspired to steal the election through various Shannanagans. Ought to blame them, not gore.
posted by delmoi at 3:25 PM on October 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


EB makes a fine observation.

I don't hate Nader, nor do I blame him alone for Bush winning in 2000. But I was repulsed by his naive, petty, egocentric, and incredibly cynical statements that Bush and Gore were essentially the same, and that it really didn't matter which one of them one voted for.

Naive, because of course it mattered who one voted for - just look at the composition of the SCOTUS.

Egocentric, because he essentially declared that he, and he alone, could save the country from what ailed it.

Cynical, because it played right into the fear that many voters on the left had that participatory democracy is run by The Man, and that the best thing to do is opt out and take the highly symbolic but strategically inept action: voting for someone with no legislative experience, no solid ideas for how to govern, and no chance at all to win.
posted by googly at 3:26 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


I once worked with someone who'd been a laywer for Nader during his early post-corvair days. It's difficult to put into words just how much disgust my cow-orker had for Nader, before he even tried to run. I can only imagine the anger-levels now.
posted by nomisxid at 3:28 PM on October 31, 2007


I believe Nader was able to see some difference between Republicans and Democrats, namely, the relative velocities that their knees hit the floor when it came to corporate influence in Washington (or some quote to that effect).

Perhaps this argument was disingenuous, but to say that he had no right to make it - I'm not sure I can agree. At any rate, it's for the voters to decide who is president, not the candidates.
posted by c*r at 3:28 PM on October 31, 2007


Oh come on. There's is so much to blame for Bush winning in 2000, why stop at Nader? There's hanging chads. There's Diebold machines. There's an electoral coup by the supreme court. There's names struck from voting lists. And, more than anything, there is an American public who was willing to vote for an unqualified simpleton because they would rather have a beer with him than that big boring lockbox guy.

Next to them and their ability to wreak havoc on an election, Nader is just a mouse speaking out angry platitudes during an avalanche of corruption, incompetence, and bullshit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:29 PM on October 31, 2007 [5 favorites]


Lots of people are dead because you and your shaggy-pitted ilk decided to cast your protest votes. That was your democratic right (pray that it always be so), just as it's mine to say that you're an irresponsible person who has abetted the cause of tyranny.

Word. Yes, you have the right to vote for anyone you want; and for that matter, I think anyone should have the right to run. What I don't think you should have the right to do is absolve yourself of responsibility for the direct consequences of your action at the polls. Why do we have Bush? In no small part, because of Nader. If you voted for Nader, we have Bush in no small part because of you. Deal or don't, that's how it is.

And yeah. Fuck Ralph Nader. And why is this happening now -- three years after the fact? The '08 donations not exactly pouring in, perhaps?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:29 PM on October 31, 2007


Wow, there's some interesting vitrol here. So if I say Gore wasn't left enough and I vote for Nader, that means I support Bush and the war? Wow, talk about doublespeak.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:32 PM on October 31, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'm so embarrassed for Democratic Party supporters that they rail against Ralph Nader. The man is a hero. The reason that people you know survived the car accidents they have been in is Ralph Nader. The reason I came out of two accidents unscathed is the work of Ralph Nader.

I can't say anything even close about anyone else in the political arena.
posted by srboisvert at 3:37 PM on October 31, 2007


Yeah - it's great that he helped with automobile safety. That doesn't mean he's innocent of what has happened over the last seven years.
posted by Pants! at 3:39 PM on October 31, 2007


Just that, by doing so, you own a little piece of the Iraq war, not to mention all the other bullshit that's gone down.

So if you voted for a Democrat who supported the Iraq war, how big a piece of it do you own then? A bigger piece or a smaller piece than if you voted for Nader?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:42 PM on October 31, 2007 [8 favorites]


No, I think the deal is that people who weren't being entirely disingenuous or disinterested in the results could easily have predicted that in such a close race, any vote cast not for Gore was essentially the moral equivalent of one less vote Bush needed to win. Protest votes are great, but I agree with KFB that everyone ought to take some responsibility for the consequences of the votes they cast. Everybody could easily predict that Nader was not going to win.

I could vote for, say, a peaceful pink unicorn (the ontological vote) and feel good about myself, but might in a larger sense be obligated that I was throwing my vote away.
posted by newdaddy at 3:42 PM on October 31, 2007


It was the electorate who chose Bush not once but twice.

Quoted for truth.

Yes, obviously there was Diebold and SCOTUS etc. But seriously.. more people voted for Bush.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:44 PM on October 31, 2007


be obligated to admit that I was throwing my vote away, is what I meant.
posted by newdaddy at 3:44 PM on October 31, 2007


NO. More people did not vote for Bush. That's common knowledge, and not even disputed. Gore was the winner of the popular vote.
posted by newdaddy at 3:45 PM on October 31, 2007


HEY EVERYONE, THE POST IS ABOUT THE 2004 ELECTION AND HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH AL GORE.

What most people in this thread seem to be harping on is the notion that the so-called Democratic Party had a right to whatever votes Ralph Nader would have won. Well, that mentality is probably why the Democrats (allegedly) forced Nader out of the race.

Even (allegedly) cheating, Kerry lost, and still would have lost even without Nader "taking away" his votes. Deal with it. Maybe send Ross Perot a gift basket while you're at it.
posted by Reggie Digest at 3:46 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Quoted for untruth?
posted by found missing at 3:46 PM on October 31, 2007


Ralph Nader: Unsane At Any Speed.
posted by rdone at 3:48 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you voted for Nader you might as well have written your vote on a napkin and flushed it down the toilet.

I am all for something other than a two-party system but seriously, the Green isn't good for anything other than a laugh. This lawsuit is just as silly.
posted by GavinR at 3:49 PM on October 31, 2007


NO. More people did not vote for Bush. That's common knowledge, and not even disputed. Gore was the winner of the popular vote.

In 2000, sure. But you'll probably notice that in 2004, Bush got rather more votes than Gore did, and quite a few more votes than Kerry did. And seeing as we're talking about 2004...
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:53 PM on October 31, 2007


Everyone who thinks we're talking about 2004 just because crazy Ralph is suing about 2004 is entirely missing the point.
posted by found missing at 3:54 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


After what he did to the 2000 elections
Which was what, exactly? Run?

You people who complain about Nader seeking the presidency are part of what's wrong with America.

As large a part as Bush? No. But you're part of it nonetheless.
posted by Flunkie at 3:54 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


What most people in this thread seem to be harping on is the notion that the so-called Democratic Party had a right to whatever votes Ralph Nader would have won.

No. What we're harping on is something obvious to damn near everyone -- it's certainly obvious enough to the GOP -- and that's that Bush wasn't the second choice of any Nader voter. Had these people not voted for Nader, it seems more likely than not they would have

A. Voted for some random no-chance-in-hell candidate, maybe as a write-in (Jello Biafra, Zombie Abraham Lincoln, Batman); or

B. Stayed home; or

C. Voted democratic.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:56 PM on October 31, 2007


Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution:
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;

The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as the President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
posted by scalefree at 3:57 PM on October 31, 2007


No one put it better than EB. The thread should have stopped there.
posted by found missing at 3:58 PM on October 31, 2007


"The reason that people you know survived the car accidents they have been in is Ralph Nader. The reason I came out of two accidents unscathed is the work of Ralph Nader."

Bullshit. Nader's influence on auto manufacturers has been overstated, just like he overstated his case regarding the Corvair.
posted by klangklangston at 3:59 PM on October 31, 2007


felix betachat The fact that you're a proscriptivist grammar wanker is all that is needed to expose you as a hysterical fool. I don't "own" a piece of the Iraqi invasion any more than the DNC, who wouldn't provide a better candidate in the first place. Next time concentrate more on "rhetoric". Nice tactic to bray: "Nobody here is saying you didn't have the right to vote for Nader" and then go on to negate that by telling me exactly why I didn't have that right. Maybe you should run for office. You have that Hillary double-speak down nicely.
posted by RavinDave at 3:59 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Doug Saunders, discussing the divide between instrumental and expressive voters:
Dennis Kavanagh, a professor of politics at the University of Liverpool, noticed recently that expressive voting is becoming more popular in his country. "Social class, left-right ideology and party loyalty are declining as cues for deciding how to vote," he wrote. Instead, voters are asking themselves, "How do I feel about myself voting for this party?"

Expressive voting, he observes, is "a form of self-characterization." The results of your vote are less important than the sort of person you become by voting. For those Ralph Nader voters, the important thing is to be the sort of people who vote for Ralph Nader.
Reggie Digest: HEY EVERYONE, THE POST IS ABOUT THE 2004 ELECTION AND HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH AL GORE.

The biggest impact Ralph Nader has had on American politics was tipping the vote in Florida in 2000. Somehow Nader himself hasn't realized this.

edgeways: yeah there is a difference between Gore/Kerry and Bush, but I think it is more a difference of personality rather than a difference of party. I do think there are differences between the GOP and the Dems, but not huge ones.

You've got to be kidding.

Norman Podhoretz is foreign policy adviser to Giulani. Romney can't tell the difference between Iran and al-Qaeda. Go read the Corner on waterboarding, or Coulter, or listen to Limbaugh.

Or read this GOP report on the Republican base:
The Republican effort to make the Bush tax cuts permanent generates strongly held feelings from the Base, more so than for any other domestic initiative tested in the survey. Proposals to erase the Bush tax cuts generate considerable anger from the Base. The two issues together cover 69% of the Base with extremely strong feelings about at least one of them. ...

Framing Democrat health care proposals as “placing a government bureaucrat between patients and doctors” or as “creating big government-run health care” can be very effective in mobilizing the Republican Base, especially in tandem with the motivating messages on health care reform. Two-thirds of the Base has extremely strong feelings about one or both of these ways of describing the Democrat approach to health care. ...

Democrat Position on Medicare Prescription Drug Program. The Republican Base separates this issue from the other health care issues and singles it out with a significant level of disapproval. This is especially the case for seniors in our Base. A 55% majority of our seniors have extremely strong feelings about “Democrats who want to take the Medicare prescription drug benefit away from seniors.” Seventy-two percent (72%) of the Republican seniors express varying degrees of anger with this Democrat position.
As a (Canadian) centrist, I think the Republican base is -- how do I put this? -- completely detached from reality. The sooner they're separated from power, the better.
posted by russilwvong at 4:00 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


In 2000, I lived in Palm Beach County but I didn't vote because I turned 18 only a few days later. I would have voted for Nader, but we all know that my vote would not have made a difference in the outcome, so why this bullshit outrage? I believed (and still believe) that the US democratic model is supremely fucked.

If Ralph Nader never existed, Al Gore still wouldn't have been elected president. That election was stolen flat out and everyone can hem and haw over details but that's a fact. And Gore was complicit in that. If Nader had been in Gore's place, he would have fought the shit out of that decision! The battle would still be going on. Because Nader's a scrappy bastard, and Al Gore just wasn't strong enough. If he wasn't strong enough to fight the results of the election, how the fuck would he have dealt with 203anything else that happened in the next four years?

In 2004, after the nightmare of the first years of Bush, I caved and voted for Kerry. As much as I did not like the dude, and as much as I used to say that I would never vote for the Dems, Nader was not available as an option. Well, guess what? Kerry didn't manage to win that one, either. And no hue and cry was raised, there were murmurings about Ohio and voter fraud but NO ONE DID ANYTHING ABOUT IT. We are all complicit in that.

I now live in Canada and I plan to order my absentee ballot and promptly NOT use it. Maybe I'll sell it on eBay, or torch it. But I have no desire to vote another dynasty into power because there are "no other choices." We have more than two political parties in Canada and it seems to work out just fine. So why are Americans denied what every other functioning democracy has?

So the Dems and the Republicans can go fuck themselves if they want to shove two options down your throat. If you can only get Coke or Pepsi, what happens to the people who just want a sip of water?

2008 - Hillary Clinton
2012 - Hillary Clinton
2016 - Jeb Bush
2020 - Jeb Bush
2024 - Chelsea Clinton
2028 - Prescott Bush
2032 - One of the Gore kids
2036 - Jenna Bush (with her sister as VP)
...
posted by SassHat at 4:01 PM on October 31, 2007 [5 favorites]


Screw the "I blame Nader" bullshit. I voted for Gore in 2000 because the obnoxious-as-hell anti-abortion people who had been walking around my college campus with small children wearing "I'm a life, not a choice" shirts were standing near the polling place. I thought to myself, "Oh yeah, Supreme Court" and voted for Gore.

You know why I was about to vote for Nader until that point? Lieberman. Have people forgotten that guy, the one who pretty much blew his way out of the democrat party only a few years after being the friggin VP candidate? There were a lot of reasons that 2000 ended up how it did. Don't blame any one factor.
posted by mikeh at 4:04 PM on October 31, 2007


SassHat: I now live in Canada and I plan to order my absentee ballot and promptly NOT use it.

Send it to me and I'll fill it out for you.
posted by russilwvong at 4:06 PM on October 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


I've only recently realized the true difference between Democrats and Republicans: the Republicans loudly stand against my ideals, the Democrats voice support, but ultimately betray my ideals.

Third parties are just a suicide pill for the two-party system.
posted by malocchio at 4:06 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, I take it the consensus here is that, even if the Democratic Party really did all the stuff alleged in Nader's lawsuit, that's ok, because Bush is bad?
posted by The World Famous at 4:13 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


No one is seriously saying the man had no right to express his opinions or run for office. Don't take jokes like "can we sue him for stealing Gore's votes" as a legal mandate, fer crying out loud. But there are a lot of things we have the right to do which are still ill-advised, counterproductive, and make us look like assholes.

There are four assumed tenets here (and if you disagree with any of them, you're not part of this discussion's demographic anyway):
1. If Gore had won in 2000, we'd be in a better America today.
2. Nader's "share" of the liberal vote would've resulted in a Gore victory had Nader not run.
3. If Kerry had won in 2004, we'd be in a better America today.
4. A significant Nader candidacy in 2004 would have put the Kerry candidacy at further risk in a close election.

Now in hindsight, Kerry lost despite Nader's absence from most ballots. But it was close, and these alleged abuses were committed by folks who thought Kerry really had a shot. Since Nader was more concerned about his own ideology than the practical future of America, they (allegedly) took it upon themselves to oppose him by any means necessary.

I'm not defending it. Though the democrats may be preferable to the republicans, no one should be manipulating the system to get into power. However, I'm willing to believe that this example was people trying, in good faith, to free the U.S. from the grips of idiocy, corruption, and superstition. And while I can't support it, I personally have a hard time condemning it as well.
posted by Riki tiki at 4:19 PM on October 31, 2007


I personally do not have a hard time condemning political operatives in any party who think that their goals are so righteous that they are justified in using "any means necessary" to achieve them.
posted by The World Famous at 4:24 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is it "OK"? If we're not going to punish the Bush administration for its massive abuses of the Constitution then we should definitely let the Dems slide on this. Both or neither, that's my vote.
posted by scalefree at 4:26 PM on October 31, 2007


It's difficult for me to read this post and not marvel at the irony of the fact that al-Qaeda means, quite literally, Base.

Double-speak, indeed.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 4:31 PM on October 31, 2007


Seriously? One political party should be immune from civil suit if members of the opposing party are not punished for completely unrelated wrongs?

Should that be pleaded as an affirmative defense?
posted by The World Famous at 4:31 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


“The fact that you're a proscriptivist grammar wanker is all that is needed to expose you as a hysterical fool.”

It's prescriptivist, you, um, fool wanker sort of person, you.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:39 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


It killed me when Bush won in 2000.

I die a little death when people say Bush won in 2000. Fuck that, that maggot didn't win shit. His daddy pressed some SCOTUS flesh and called in favors.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:47 PM on October 31, 2007


I have very different memories of 2000 Al Gore than many in this thread, apparently--he was a very different kind of person then (check his pre-2000 record), and pick Joe Lieberman as his running mate, for crying out loud. Also, while I thought Bush was a lying douche in 2000, I--and, I would venture to guess, many others--had no idea he would turn out to be the absolute nightmare he is. (How many of you had even heard of neocons or PNAC in 2000? How many thought he wanted to invade Iraq, even though it was the first agenda item in his first cabinet meeting in Feb. 2001?)

Al Gore was a lame candidate in 2000, and that's why he lost the election. Since then, he's become the kind of leader people want to support, but to my recollection, he wasn't at all that, then.

Per the lawsuit, I'll have to read more about it, but Nader may have a point--if third parties are actively being shut out of the process, we have no hope of fundamental reforms of any kind in the near future. My personal like or dislike of Nader won't cloud my clarity on that: the two-party system is broken.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:53 PM on October 31, 2007 [4 favorites]


I did and do defend Nader's right to run, and anyone else's right to vote for him.

That does not mean he isn't an ass. I used to look up to this guy, and now, I wonder if he was always cuckoo, or just lost it at some point between Unsafe at Any Speed and 2000 or so.

The Electoral College needs to go. Nader isn't the guy to do it, because his own ego gets in the way of actually encouraging meaningful reform. His complete inability to understand what was at stake in the last two elections, especially 2004, and what's at stake now makes him an unwitting tool of the right, who all despise him, and thus made enemies of the left as well. It's very painful to watch. And hard not to hate him for the elections, though honestly, Gore blew it, Florida was tampered with, and the SCOTUS lost its soul, none of which he is responsible for.
posted by emjaybee at 4:54 PM on October 31, 2007


That fucking egotistical asshole.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:00 PM on October 31, 2007


And for the record, Buchanan took more electoral votes away from Bush than Nader did from Gore.

Statements like that have got to be backed up. Otherwise they are just noise. "I heard it somewhere" won't count either.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:02 PM on October 31, 2007


So what would be the legal theory here, intentional tort? Wouldn't we be past Statute of Limitations?
posted by rakish_yet_centered at 5:04 PM on October 31, 2007


I am disappointed that there are hardly any comments here about the democrats' alleged wrongdoing in the 2004 election, which was really the only subject of my fpp. Please note that Nader is not suing Gore! I thought TFA was actually pretty interesting, and this lawsuit is obviously not about sour grapes but about future 3rd party candidates getting a fair shot. But, all you people seem to want to talk about is the past. So, here is some more about the past (gotta give the people what they want, right?).

newdaddy said: any vote cast not for Gore was essentially the moral equivalent of one less vote Bush needed to win

Any vote? What about voters who aren't in "swing states"? I won't say people in Florida shouldn't have voted 3rd party if they didn't like Gore or Bush, but surely you're not saying that even the Nader voters in California are guilty of helping Gore lose, are you? I guess, if there were enough of them, Gore could have lost the "popular vote" in addition to the electoral, but it isn't like the fact that he actually did win it caused Gore not to concede.

psmealey said any political party outside the main two is hopelessly irrelevant.

I wish you would stop saying that, because you're re-enforcing others' belief in that bullshit every time you do. I've studied some U.S. history, and I'm aware we've had two largely similar parties for a good long while now, but some of us are still operating under the view that the future is not predetermined and things can change. And, if you really believed you had no option but to choose one of the two big pro-war candidates in '04 then wtf did you even bother voting for?

A vote for Kerry from an anti-war voter was, essentially, an admission that 2+2=5.

Artw said Man, are people still trotting out "It's okay to throw away your vote on some no-hoper because Democrats and Republicans are exactly the same"? Have these people not watched the news in the last years or something?

Man, maybe you haven't watched the news yourself, so here is a newsflash: the Democrats took the Congress in the '06 election and today the U.S.A. is still torturing people in Iraq and Cuba and who knows where else and the executive branch has so far been neither checked nor balanced, so... what were you saying again?

Also, while not forgetting the Lieberman half of Gore's ticket, and the foreign military action that occurred under the Clinton/Gore administration, lets also remember that despite all of his obvious-even-then stupidity and evilness, Bush actually did run on a platform that included opposition to "nation building" and unnecessary foreign military intervention. So, to some people, Bush could have actually seemed like the candidate less likely to start wars in 2000. (It goes without saying, if I had been old enough to vote then, I would have voted for a 3rd party [and, definitely not Nader]). If anyone feels they must keep talking about the 2000 election in this thread, please address the points in this paragraph.

I think I can see how people might conclude that the Iraq war is the fault of Nader and those who voted for him. Because then, like, such as, it will magically stop being all US Americans' fault, right?
posted by finite at 5:07 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Thank God the Democratic Party is so different from the Republican one. Now that the Democrats control Congress, the occupation of Iraq is just an unpleasant memory, the USA Patriot Act is history, habeas corpus is restored, and the budget deficit is being reduced. Industry lobbyists no longer have undue influence on legislation, and everyone has the health care they need. Happy Days are here again!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:08 PM on October 31, 2007 [6 favorites]


So what would be the legal theory here, intentional tort?

I'd like to see the complaint. I suspect it's got the kitchen sink, but I would imagine malicious prosecution, as well as whatever other tort and statutory claims they could come up with.

Wouldn't we be past Statute of Limitations?

That depends on the causes of action. It hasn't been all that long, though, particularly if the alleged actions were only recently discovered.
posted by The World Famous at 5:08 PM on October 31, 2007


Per the lawsuit, I'll have to read more about it, but Nader may have a point--if third parties are actively being shut out of the process, we have no hope of fundamental reforms of any kind in the near future. My personal like or dislike of Nader won't cloud my clarity on that: the two-party system is broken.

Read my comment above, the 12th Amendment. The two party system is written into the Constitution. If you don't get a majority of the Electoral College, the election goes to the House who get to choose from the top three EC vote-getters. Third parties just can't happen under those rules. You want change, amend the 12th.
posted by scalefree at 5:10 PM on October 31, 2007


So the 12th amendment ensures America has a joke-ass democracy? Good to know someone thought enough to write that down.
posted by chunking express at 5:19 PM on October 31, 2007 [3 favorites]


The weird part about this is that not only are the democratic party leadership showing that they can be as contemptuous of democracy as the republican party leadership but also that the democratic supporters can be as blindly supportive team players as the republicans.

If what Ralph said about both parties being the same wasn't true to begin with he is somehow making it true.
posted by srboisvert at 5:24 PM on October 31, 2007 [4 favorites]


I wish you would stop saying that, because you're re-enforcing others' belief in that bullshit every time you do.

1. I'm not so powerful as you might suspect
2. I only said it once.
3. My stopping saying that won't make it any less true, unfortunately, and
3a. It's not bullshit.

Look, the only way you're ever going to break the two-party stranglehold on power is by conducting a new Constitutional convention and dismantle the Senate, the Electoral College and the entire spoils system. The election system itself perpetuates its own structure (as well as the FEC). You seem to be under the mistaken believe that it's apathy that preserves it. That may be a slight enabler, but that's not what's kept two parties in power for almost all of this countries history. I think a closer reading of history should be required.

while I thought Bush was a lying douche in 2000, I--and, I would venture to guess, many others--had no idea he would turn out to be the absolute nightmare he is.

Seriously? Arbusto Energy, Harken, Sammy Sosa, the governer of the state with the worst environmental record in history, not one single stay of execution on Texas Death Row? Not one?

I don't know what other information you needed about W in 2000, unless you were only getting your news from the major TV networks.
posted by psmealey at 5:27 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also, please stop trying to manage the thread.
posted by psmealey at 5:28 PM on October 31, 2007


Ironmouth:Statements like that have got to be backed up. Otherwise they are just noise. "I heard it somewhere" won't count either.

And misplaced callouts like this won't get you far, kid.

Buchanan cost Bush New Mexico, Iowa, Oregon, and Wisconsin, all of which were insanely close. That's 30 votes. Nader just cost Gore Florida and New Hampshire. A combined total of 29. For all you Nader bashers out there, 30 > 29.

If you don't believe me, maybe this will help.
posted by allen.spaulding at 5:33 PM on October 31, 2007


I would be nice if people would discuss Nader's lawsuit against the Democratic Party et al. You know, since that's the only thing the FPP is about.
posted by The World Famous at 5:36 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Seriously? Arbusto Energy, Harken, Sammy Sosa, the governer of the state with the worst environmental record in history, not one single stay of execution on Texas Death Row? Not one?

Yes, seriously. I had no illusions that he was a terrible candidate for the office, and that I would never vote for him, but no: I had no idea he would be off-the-rails crazy, and no idea that the neoconservative foreign policy would be enacted with such vigor.

Also, please stop trying to manage the thread.

Was that intended for me? I've only posted 2 comments in the thread so far....
posted by LooseFilter at 5:40 PM on October 31, 2007


He conceded early! Where is the outrage about that?

There's plenty of outrage to go around. I personally was more pissed about that then about Nader's influence. I mean, shit, you're allowed to run. He didn't do anything wrong, any more than Perot did. The really miserable part of it is that Gore didn't fight for the people that did vote for him.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:42 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


psmealey says Look, the only way you're ever going to break the two-party stranglehold on power is by conducting a new Constitutional convention and dismantle the Senate, the Electoral College and the entire spoils system.

Wow. And people say I'm unreasonable. So, do you suggest we just wait for the government to allow us to dismantle it, and keep voting 2+2=5 until that happens?

I'd like to hear what you think about the simple (and reasonable, imho) ideas I mentioned in the comments here for fixing things incrementally without needing to scrap the whole government and start over.

psmealey says Also, please stop trying to manage the thread.

Please stop trying to dictate what next year's reality already is.
posted by finite at 5:50 PM on October 31, 2007


I am disappointed that there are hardly any comments here about the democrats' alleged wrongdoing in the 2004 election, which was really the only subject of my fpp. Please note that Nader is not suing Gore!

Agreed. This thread is fucking bleak. I scrolled through 100 F U NADER!!!1!!11 posts, hoping there was some interesting discussion of the FPP, but alas, nothing. Is this Fark?

The Democrats are, as usual, their own worst enemy. At this point in American politics, when a large part of the left has essentially abandoned Pelosi, it's depressing they still have time to rage about how Nader ruined the world. Any litigation or movement which takes power away from the two-party establishment is, at this time, desperately needed. Both parties have failed us equally - it may be easy to blame it all on one man, but really it's a terrible systemic failure, and there's plenty of blame for everyone. Any tiny foothold for a grassroots movement for electoral reform should be grabbed at the earliest opportunity. If 2000 and 2004 taught us anything, it is that the American democratic system IS BROKEN. Nothing has changed since then.

Many of you apparently need the upcoming 2008 election to finally teach you this lesson, but when Giuliani wins the presidency after Swift Boat Widows for Fuck That Bitch explain to America that Hilary Clinton is, despite what the Democrats would like you to believe, a woman, don't come crying to me.
posted by mek at 6:07 PM on October 31, 2007 [7 favorites]


That all may be true, but it doesn't take away from the fact that: Fuck You, Nader! (101)
posted by found missing at 6:21 PM on October 31, 2007


Hey, here's something from the FPP we can discuss without having to rewind our brains to 2000:

AMY GOODMAN: What impact will all this have on Ralph Nader now? He has said that if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, he will run for president. It looks like she is the frontrunner right now.

CARL MAYER: Well, in terms of 2008, I can’t speak to 2008. And in politics, things can change quite quickly. I mean, it’s entirely possible that the actual progressive base of the Democratic Party will seek a nominee that reflects their views


Ha ha. They will. And they'll lose.
posted by salvia at 6:21 PM on October 31, 2007


OK, here's some discussion about Ralph Nader that doesn't rely on hypotheticals about the 2000 election (salon link) -- or rather, some stuff that stands out for me:

-Despite his high-falutin' populist rhetoric, he's got an extensive record of being anti-union within his own organization. And not just kinda-sorta anti-union -- flat-out abusive. And he's a jerk to his subordinates in general.

-His 2004 campaign was funded by Republican donors and he was well aware of it.

-Not only has he not expressed any contrition about the results of the 2000 election, he's indicated that he's actually quite all right with how things turned out.

If the Green party wants to file suit against the Democratic Party because they think they've been wronged, I'm not sure I'd mind. They're not my party, but they're generally on my side of the fence. But Ralph Nader didn't run on the Green Party ticket in 2004, and Ralph Nader is a scumbag, so as far as I'm concerned, he can get bent.
posted by spiderwire at 6:47 PM on October 31, 2007


what a difference five years makes
posted by hortense at 6:52 PM on October 31, 2007


mek: This thread is fucking bleak. I scrolled through 100 F U NADER!!!1!!11 posts

I disagree. As I intimated upthread, this isn't a lawsuit (it is well beyond its SOL), its a PR announcement during the democratic primary by someone who is angry at the DNC. That is bullshit, and should be treated as such.

On preview, Spiderwire beat me to it.
posted by rakish_yet_centered at 7:05 PM on October 31, 2007


srboisvert: The weird part about this is that not only are the democratic party leadership showing that they can be as contemptuous of democracy as the republican party leadership but also that the democratic supporters can be as blindly supportive team players as the republicans.

It's not a question of blind support for the Democratic party. It's about taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions (or inaction).

This is especially frustrating for non-Americans. Look, the US government is the most powerful in the world. When it's run by fools and crazy people, this has a huge impact on the rest of the world. If you're an American voter, you have a vital responsibility: Don't elect another government that's as terrible as the Bush administration--or, God forbid, one that's even worse. When the choice is between two evils, choose the lesser evil. Don't vote for a saint who has no chance of winning.

You may only have a single vote, but it matters. What Florida 2000 demonstrated was that even a few hundred votes can make all the difference in the world.

Hans Morgenthau, Scientific Man vs. Power Politics, 1946:
There is no escape from the evil of power, regardless of what one does. Whenever we act with reference to our fellow men, we must sin, and we must still sin when we refuse to act; for the refusal to be involved in the evil of action carries with it the breach of the obligation to do one's duty....

By avoiding a political action because it is unjust, the perfectionist does nothing but exchange blindly one injustice for another which might even be worse than the former. He shrinks from the lesser evil because he does not want to do evil at all. Yet his personal abstention from evil, which is actually a subtle form of egotism with a good conscience, does not at all affect the existence of evil in the world but only destroys the faculty of discriminating between different evils.
posted by russilwvong at 7:15 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


You may only have a single vote, but it matters.

Actually , it doesn't. It made absolutely no difference who I voted for in either of the last two Presidential elections. It will make no difference who I vote for in the next one. I live in Massachusetts. I also don't get to make any difference in the primary, because the nomination is just a formality by the time I get to vote in it.

If I vote for the Democrat, or the Republican, or the Green candidate, or Nader, or Darth Vader in the primary or in the general election, it will have no effect on who the next President is.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:27 PM on October 31, 2007


Mr. Nader should be sued for conspiring to use groundless and abusive legislation to harass and intimidate citizens who are likely members of the Democratic Party from exercising their free speech rights to keep his sorry ass off the ballot in as many states as possible, especially since he doesn't have enough support to do what it minimally takes to get on the ballot in any state by any means other than whining.
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:30 PM on October 31, 2007


Kirth Gerson: I live in Massachusetts.

Reagan won Massachusetts in 1980 and 1984.

That aside: What's the deal with Romney? How'd he get elected?
posted by russilwvong at 7:38 PM on October 31, 2007


Okay, all you 2000 Nader blamers, please. Focus all that totally misplaced anger at corrupt voting officials, hanging chads, partisan state attourney generals...and that's just Florida. Not to mention the Supreme Court. James Baker. Jeb Bush. FOX News....shall I go on? Nader is the one honest player in that whole mess and people still think he didn't have the right to run. Geez.

Let's go back in a time machine to 2000, to what Nader was (essentially) saying back then...

"what this lawsuit campaign will do, and the importance of it is, is to set a precedent so that the two-party monopoly system that shuts out minor parties in a way that other Western democracies never do, that this will set a precedent to prevent this type of intimidation and harassment."

Folks, Nader doesn't really want to be president and never did. He wants to break up the two-party system. That's his goal. With a multiparty system, the theory goes, voters will have more power at all level of government, and it'll be a much better system for checks and balances. Most industrialized nations (namely Europe) have a multiparty system, and they have their imperfections, too, so IMHO it's not exactly a magic elixir, but it could motivate folks to be more involved.

Everyone bitches about how the American political system sucks, and here's a guy actually trying to do something about it. Save your stones for the real bad guys.
posted by zardoz at 7:41 PM on October 31, 2007


I disagree. As I intimated upthread, this isn't a lawsuit (it is well beyond its SOL), its a PR announcement during the democratic primary by someone who is angry at the DNC. That is bullshit, and should be treated as such.

This is false and irrelevant. The S.O.L in D.C. is 3 years (not sure but it's at least 3), which means it's just expiring for these allegations and some of them certainly fall within it. That's also irrelevant for any number of legal reasons, not least of which the case involves the defendant's bankruptcy, which obviously limits his ability to construct a case, which is grounds to extend a SOL.
posted by mek at 7:45 PM on October 31, 2007


zardoz: He wants to break up the two-party system. That's his goal.

In politics, one's actions and especially their consequences are more important than their motives. What were the actual consequences of Nader's 2000 campaign?
posted by russilwvong at 7:46 PM on October 31, 2007


What were the actual consequences of Nader's 2000 campaign?

We're still talking about it all these years later, for one.
posted by finite at 7:50 PM on October 31, 2007


Ralph Nader shouldn't be suing anyone. He should be shaving his head and kneeling in the street praying to god for his eternal soul.
posted by found missing at 7:52 PM on October 31, 2007


Fuck you all. Vote Kucinich, or die. That is all.
posted by HyperBlue at 8:01 PM on October 31, 2007


Everyone bitches about how the American political system sucks, and here's a guy actually trying to do something about it.

He's trying the wrong things is the problem. He should stop running as a spoiler vanity candidate & start a campaign to amend the 12th to remove or alter the "majority" bit. There's not even theoretically a way his or anybody else's third party could become viable because our Constitution just isn't written that way. The election would just go to the House & even if he came in first in both the EC & popular votes they'd just pick whichever party's in the majority's candidate.

As long as you need a majority to win the Presidency that means two parties, period.
posted by scalefree at 8:05 PM on October 31, 2007


Nader is the one honest player in that whole mess and people still think he didn't have the right to run.
"The central element of Ralph Nader's public appeal is, and has always been, honesty":

When American University professor Jamin Raskin proposed that Nader supporters in swing states swap their votes with Gore supporters in safe states ...Nader denounced the idea. ...

Then there was the debate within the Nader campaign over where to travel in the waning days of the campaign. Some Nader advisers urged him to spend his time in uncontested states such as New York and California. These states -- where liberals and leftists could entertain the thought of voting Nader without fear of aiding Bush -- offered the richest harvest of potential votes. But, Martin writes, Nader ... insisted on spending the final days of the campaign on a whirlwind tour of battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Florida. In other words, he chose to go where the votes were scarcest, jeopardizing his own chances of winning 5 percent of the vote, which he needed to gain federal funds in 2004. Nader does not mention this decision in his own account of the campaign. He does write that when Sellers worried that he would focus on electoral battlegrounds, "I told him we were running a fifty-state campaign to maximize our votes and were not going out of our way to target swing states." Either Nader was lying to Sellers or is lying to his readers.

posted by spiderwire at 8:06 PM on October 31, 2007


If you voted for Nader you might as well have written your vote on a napkin and flushed it down the toilet.

You can say precisely the same thing about Gore and Kerry as well, because they didn't win either. The only difference is, you'd need a bigger napkin. And bizzarely, the constituency that Nader represents -- those on the left who feel disenfranchised by the Democrats -- will now feel even more disenfranchised, because it's not like the Dems said 'we need to win those people over and make sure next time around they do vote for us'. Instead, they keep on shouting 'more of the same, you'll like it or lump it!'

Well fuck you. I don't like it and I won't lump it. You can keep your rotten stinking party machine. I'm glad I live in a civilized country where we accept that people have a right to vote for third parties and we don't lay the blame with them for the failure of the sad sack losers that couldn't carry enough of the vote to win. If *you* don't like it, then ensure that your party has policies and personalities that can carry enough support to win it.

And if all that those of you did about ensuring that the Dems won in those elections was to vote for them, well fuck you too. Because you're *just* as responsible for the loss as those party members are. You want a different outcome? Then involve yourself in the party and make it electable. Don't whine because somebody has a different vision of how politics might be -- make your own vision one that more people can sign up for. That's how the system works. If you don't like it, work to change it, but complaining because someone else is doing precisely that might be the most ridiculous thing I've heard in my life.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:38 PM on October 31, 2007 [8 favorites]


Ralph Nader: Consumer protection advocate. Corporate pornography opponent. Pro-Bush. Anti-Gore. Pro-life. Anti-abortion.

Progressive!
posted by spiderwire at 8:43 PM on October 31, 2007


You know, I like Ralph Nader. And I love Democracy Now. But I think a single link post to a DN segment isn't really super great. I mean, it could have helped to beef it up with some context. Have candidates sued before in similar historic incidents? Is there some public response from the Democrats? Something besides Democracy Now?
posted by serazin at 8:51 PM on October 31, 2007


I like pugs but I could vote for a French bulldog.
posted by y2karl at 8:54 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


According to the Florida Department of State election results for president in the 2000 election, Bush beat Gore by 537 votes, 2,912,790 votes to 2,912,253. Nader got 97,488 votes in Florida. If 99% of Florida Nader voters in 2000 didn't vote for Gore, and 1% voted did, Gore would've won by 974 votes, which is almost twice Bush's official margin.

Well before the 2000 election Gore had written a book on the environment, founded the GLOBE Program on Earth Day 1994, and strongly sponsored the Kyoto Treaty (symbolically signing it in 1998). Bush was the governor of a state that led the nation "in air pollution, in toxic chemicals released, in factories violating clean water standards" and "according to the Environmental Protection Agency, of having the dirtiest air in America, of ranking 47th in water quality, and having the seventh-highest rate of release of toxic industrial byproducts onto its land." You'd think supporters of the motherfucking Green Party might have seen a teensy-weensy difference instead of saying there wasn't any difference, as Nader himself did.

The Supreme Court's intervention was bullshit because of the conservative justices' flip-flop on states' rights and the ludicrous this-isn't'-a-precedent clause, but it did not cost Gore the election. In November 2001 a media consortium counted the votes, and Gore would not have won under any of the scenarios that actually happened. If the Supreme Court hadn't stopped the recount, Bush would have won by 493 votes. Gore would have won under some scenarios, but not in the actual recount. He would have won if he had asked for a statewide recount, but he didn't do that; he only asked for recounts in four counties (Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Volusia) that he thought he would win.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:19 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


I heard Nader day something like "Vote your hopes, not your fears".

Man, is that backwards.
posted by spaltavian at 11:11 PM on October 31, 2007


Wow. And people say I'm unreasonable. So, do you suggest we just wait for the government to allow us to dismantle it, and keep voting 2+2=5 until that happens?

Straw man (bonus points for the 1984 reference, though). I suggest we continue to support people like Howard Dean, who are working within the current (and unfortunate) structures to effect some real change, and not pay much mind to people like Ralph Nader who's basically having a temper tantrum and asking for my vote on that basis.

As long as you need a majority to win the Presidency that means two parties, period.

Exactly. Until the 12th amendment is amended itself (no more majority of electoral college, or some tweaks like instant run-off voting, you're pretty much going to get what we have.

None of us like it, but barring economic or governmental collapse (like the one that comported FDR to victory), it won't change. The power is too entrenched, and the overwhelming majority of people are too risk averse (John Anderson 5%, Ross Perot 9%) to vote for reform.
posted by psmealey at 2:59 AM on November 1, 2007


This is especially frustrating for non-Americans. Look, the US government is the most powerful in the world. When it's run by fools and crazy people, this has a huge impact on the rest of the world. If you're an American voter, you have a vital responsibility: Don't elect another government that's as terrible as the Bush administration--or, God forbid, one that's even worse. When the choice is between two evils, choose the lesser evil. Don't vote for a saint who has no chance of winning.

That is a fine strategy as long as you always want your choice to be between two evils. I hear people here ranting as though GWB is the anti-christ and if only he were not elected America would revert back to being a peace loving paradise example of freedom. I understand where this can come from if you are young but if you are older than 30 you know it is bullshit. Bush and his admin are more nakedly corrupt than any other but in terms of actions they are not that different from other post-WWII admins. This isn't the first trumped up excuse for war. This is the first bungled war. This isn't the first time an admin has sanctioned and covered up atrocities.

So far the Democratic saviors in congress have shown a pretty impressive unwillingness to check this conduct. The leading Democratic candidates also show an unwillingness to withdraw from Iraq. Why is that?

Because they know you will chose the lesser of two evils and as long as they say please and thank you they are less evil than BushCo.
posted by srboisvert at 3:04 AM on November 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


I see where you're coming from srboisvert, but I don't think the choice is always between the lesser of two evils.

This is bound to be an unpopular position, but for his philandering and the ensuing scandal the mired his administration in powerlessness for 2+ years, Bill Clinton was a perfectly reasonable president. It's a big ship to steer, and you are invariably going to piss people off on both sides when you do it, but I don't see any examples of war mongering (if anything, they were too slow to intervene in Bosnia, and were guilty in ignoring Rwanda, etc.) and other atrocious behavior.

Neither did I think that Gore was an "evil" in 2000. Kerry was also perfectly respectable man to run, even if a terrible candidate.

For 2008, though, you are spot on. If the primaries play out to current form, we will have a lying, fear-mongering, police state enthusiast running against an untested, pandering triangulator, who, despite it all, still thinks invading Iraq was a good idea.

Fuck, despite what I said above, I may end up writing Nader in.
posted by psmealey at 3:17 AM on November 1, 2007


One last thing, I do not agree with those who are blaming Nader for Gore's loss in 2000, and generally for the fix we're in. I think he's an egotistical scold who is nevertheless in his own way, is a patriot. I think he's going after the Democrats in the same way as he went after GM in the 1960s, but ultimately it's sound and fury signifying nothing, due to the the stack decked mentioned a few times above.

If you are interested, this article from Vanity Fair, does about as good a job as anything I've read in the past 7 years to explain Gore's failure to win. It blames in equal measure, the media, the Clintons, Gore himself, the Supreme Court and the State of Florida, but (appropriately enough) Nader does not even register.
posted by psmealey at 3:42 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Reagan won Massachusetts in 1980 and 1984.

Which party's ticket did he run on in 2000?

How did Romney get in? Full-court lying, massive spending, and an unknown opponent who ran a lazy campaign.

All you Nader-haters can think what you want, but if you look in his closets, you won't find any IOUs to industry lobbyists. Can you say that about your favorite candidate?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:03 AM on November 1, 2007


Seems lots of people still suffer from Nader Derangement Syndrome.
posted by vivelame at 5:21 AM on November 1, 2007


I heard Nader day something like "Vote your hopes, not your fears".


I hope Nader just shuts up and goes away. I fear he won't.
posted by tommasz at 5:26 AM on November 1, 2007


all you 2000 Nader blamers, please. Focus all that totally misplaced anger at corrupt voting officials, hanging chads, partisan state attourney generals...and that's just Florida. Not to mention the Supreme Court. James Baker. Jeb Bush. FOX News....shall I go on? Nader is the one honest player in that whole mess and people still think he didn't have the right to run. Geez.

Oh, I can hate a lot of different people at the same time. But if you think Nader is honest, you're either stupid or bought. There isn't a dime's worth of difference between Nader and the next Republican candidate. When the day arrives, I'm making a special pilgrimage to piss on Bush's grave; then I'm taking a shit on Nader's.

(And the day after that? Look out, George Lucas! I'm coming after you, bitch!)
posted by octobersurprise at 6:21 AM on November 1, 2007


See, the thing is, Perot is kind of a demonstration that it is possible (though only with a tremendous amount of your own money and/or contributions) to make a third party relevant and to change, if however briefly, the topic in US national elections. That Perot was as successful as he was, despite his own cranky, pedagogical, wierd-uncle personna, is evidence that Nader could have similarly made some hay, had his outlook had real resonance with a larger group of voters. "To the left of the democratic party" is not a likely place to look for a large block of votes, however bizarrely the current Congress is acting.

I don't know anything about the content or validity of the lawsuit, but all those people saying "Gore could have won, if he had gotten more votes" (duh!) might turn that argument around and tell Nader that what he needed wasn't a flatter playing field but rather more actual support from likely voters. He can't argue that he was lacking for name recognition.
posted by newdaddy at 6:37 AM on November 1, 2007


Some of the comments here are so disappointing. I really wanted Gore to win, and I don't even live in the US. So I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to wake up everyday and have Bush as your president. Still, if people have to pick between two candidates who do not represent their interests, then you can't call your system of governance a democracy in any real sense of that word.

If people voted for Nadar because they thought he represented them the best, or because they thought it was a good way to say "I think both Gore and Bush are from the same club" then that is their perogative. That's not Nadar's fault. He didn't force anyone to vote for him. All he did was run.

Do people really want a system where you can't even run as a 3rd party candidate? Why even bother with two?
posted by chunking express at 6:58 AM on November 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


This thread reeks of entitlement and spite. Especially spite. Whining over what? That someone ran on his conscience and others chose to vote for him. And it isn't that you are stridently opposed to his politics, no, you want a scapegoat for your candidate losing.

In politics, one's actions and especially their consequences are more important than their motives. What were the actual consequences of Nader's 2000 campaign?


This is heinous bullshit.

A good result is great but you can't grade an action solely by the result. There are numerous variables completely out of the control of the decision maker. Any outcome, and especially one where there are numerous other independent agents, is not directly reflective of the quality of decision made. Decisions are best evaluated by determining whether that was the best option to take at the time the decision was made with the information that was available at that time. That is an appropriate base for criticism. Anything short of it is after-the-fact, Monday morning quarterback, bitching and crying. And despite Ethereal Bligh's claim about the magnitude of Nader's "lie", I'm not convinced he made a poor decision to run in 2000. This is given his politics, not mine. With his concerns about the working class, outsourcing of jobs and corporate power, how big was the difference between Gore and Bush? Not very. Nader was strongly opposed to NAFTA, how sympathetic is he going to be towards Gore? If he's lying then the difference between Bush and Gore has to be apparent to him, and it's quite easy to believe that for some, this 'difference' is imaginary.

The "actual consequences" matter for shit. Never mind that the vast majority of the time, the web of inter-related causes can not be sorted out to determine what would have happened 'if Not X'. What matters is determining, to the best of one's ability, a set of principles (and not necessarily a consistent set) that is prudent for working with the world and then applying them time after time. Obviously, there will be failures, and that doesn't mean anything was done wrong. Presupposed beneath this exclusive focus on consequences, is the childish notion that somehow it is possible to get through life doing everything 'perfect'. That there is a correct response to every situation. And even moreso, that this response can and should have been foreseen. Well, no. As others have pointed out, liberals tend to reject tragedy as the basis of their outlook. Perhaps that is why so much of their thought looks vapid and fanciful.

Two quick examples. Fukuyama has come under a tremendous amount of criticism for giving support to the war in Iraq. Claiming he should be ignored because he was "proven wrong" is silly. No one predicts the future and it is shallow to judge them for failing to do so. An even more well known example is the tendency of both the public and the media to judge the competence of the President by the state of the current economy. The President can certainly affect the economy but he doesn't control it and there is little correlation between his acts and the economy's performance during his term. Many of his decisions will show their effect some years down the road. And still many of us judge Bush - Clinton - Bush by the country's level of prosperity at the time of their Presidency. After all, the sound bite only has room for the immediate association.

What I don't think you should have the right to do is absolve yourself of responsibility for the direct consequences of your action at the polls. Why do we have Bush? In no small part, because of Nader. If you voted for Nader, we have Bush in no small part because of you. Deal or don't, that's how it is.

LOL. Pure self validating nonsense. I love the posture of 'telling it like it is'. But maybe I can work with it. On most issues (save immigration), my politics are in agreement with the Libertarians. So if you have ever voted for anyone other than a Libertarian candidate, I hold you directly responsible for the decline of liberty in America. Why are Libertarian politicians not running the country? In no small part, because of voters continuing to vote Democrat and Republican. If you have ever voted Democrat or Republican, we have the Drug War, an interventionist foreign policy, a tremendous deficit and an out of control federal government, in no small part because of you. Deal or don't, that's how it is.

I hope you're pleased with what you've accomplished.

-----

spiderwire,

Thanks for the link to the interview in American Conservative. That was great. His proposals concerning minimum wage are, of course, absurd. Still, he presented some interesting ideas and I appreciate his thoughts on corporate power vs. capitalism as well as his view on taxation.
posted by BigSky at 7:04 AM on November 1, 2007


As long as we're playing "what if" ... What if that the Left had shown a wee bit of restraint in 2004 and toned down that summer of in-yer-face gay marriage instead of providing the Right with the perfect pre-election wedge issue to bring out the conservative vote in eleven states (including keystone state, Ohio)? Is anyone saying they "own a piece of Iraq"?
posted by RavinDave at 7:07 AM on November 1, 2007


Hey, check that - Pennsylvania is the Keystone State. You meant that Ohio was a key state in the election, perhaps?
posted by newdaddy at 7:16 AM on November 1, 2007


I'm not convinced he made a poor decision to run in 2000.

I'm sure you aren't. Anyway, thanks for making my point that Nader's biggest fans are righties and ignorant lefties.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:22 AM on November 1, 2007


So far the Democratic saviors in congress have shown a pretty impressive unwillingness to check this conduct. The leading Democratic candidates also show an unwillingness to withdraw from Iraq. Why is that?

Because the Republicans in Congress (especially the Senate) are sticking with Bush and the Democrats don't have enough votes to override Bush's veto. (The Democrats have caved on a couple of things I don't think they had to, and they haven't been as confrontational as I'd like, but the bottom line is they don't have enough votes as long as the Republicans stick with Bush.)
posted by kirkaracha at 7:23 AM on November 1, 2007


Can't hide behind the "not enough votes" crap forever. Don't need'em to start scheduling hearings, issuing and enforcing subpoenas, and announcing that impeachment is no longer "off the table".
posted by RavinDave at 7:28 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


The democrats do fuck all right now. You can't run on a "we're not as crap as those dudes over their" campaign forever.
posted by chunking express at 7:37 AM on November 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


For fuck's sake people. I'm scared that there are people here who wanted Joe Lieberman to have that much power and that they have the gall to blame others for Iraq.

You're forgetting that we didn't have the precedent of Dick Cheney as an all-powerful Veep in 2000. I would have rather had Lieberman going to the funerals of foreign dignitaries (which is what most Veeps did before Cheney) than as a United States Senator. Besides, if Gore had won in 2000, he could have dumped Lieberman in 2004, much like FDR dumped Henry Wallace before settling on Harry Truman.
posted by jonp72 at 8:31 AM on November 1, 2007


I've posted this quote from Tony Kushner before, but I'll post it again:

The principle of realpolitik is that politics isn't an expression of your personal purity. Politics is about compromise. People need to understand that politics is very much a matter of the lesser of two evils, or three -- however many evils, but you choose the least evil one. Al Gore was a horror and the most untalented politician on the national scene in many a year, but if anybody actually thinks that Al Gore would not be an infinite improvement over what we have now...

Elections are not prim and proper college debates where we deliberate about the structure of government and the best way of setting up a multiparty, representative democracy. Elections are bare-knuckle contests about the allocation of power. Ignore this reality at your peril.
posted by jonp72 at 8:46 AM on November 1, 2007 [5 favorites]


Elections are bare-knuckle contests about the allocation of power. Ignore this reality at your peril.

Well said!
posted by LooseFilter at 9:52 AM on November 1, 2007


christ, what assholes democrats are.

since you get to decide who i should be allowed to waste my vote on, why don't you just go ahead and vote for me?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:20 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Saul, I already have my choice of assholes to vote for who might win. Why should I vote for an asshole with no chance at all?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:30 AM on November 1, 2007


what objectively makes those particular assholes the ones who might win?

well, nothing really, aside from the fact that you've decided to vote for them because you think they might win.

i should only vote for the guy you think has a chance of winning, even though i'd rather vote for the guy i actually want to win.

no, how about I'll vote for the guy I want to vote for, you do the same. and then we'll both live with the outcome. if your guy can convince me to vote for them, i will.

you insult people for voting their conscience and then think you can brow-beat them into voting for the candidate you prefer? and then you have the gall to wonder why dems keep losing elections?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:47 AM on November 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


i should only vote for the guy you think has a chance of winning, even though i'd rather vote for the guy i actually want to win.

Look. If you want Optimus Prime to win, then vote for him, big guy. Knock yourself out. Vote for your breakfast. I don't care. But don't get self-righteous when someone tells you that your bacon and eggs ain't gonna make it to the White House.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:54 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


You insult people for insulting people for the votes they make and then wonder why your votes of conscience fail to make any real change other than bolstering the votes of other people who are also being insulted for the votes they made, because they got us into this fuck of a mess?
posted by found missing at 11:55 AM on November 1, 2007


That's not what they're saying. They're not saying "you're guy ain't gonna make it", they're saying: "It's your fault my guy didn't win because you frittered away your vote on someone you believe in rather than giving it to us (as we are ENTITLED to have it).

Subtle difference, eh?
posted by RavinDave at 11:59 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Americans seem to have this unquenchable thirst to be on a winning team, even if that team is pure evil. We vote for a candidate because we think they'll win, and not because we actually like the candidate or agree with their views (because, let's face it, whatever they say their views are is a lie).

The message we send to the Democrats is: "We don't care what you do or how much you stray from what Democrats are actually supposed to believe, because we will vote for you as long as you're running against a Republican, and all you have to do to win the primary is convince us that you're favored to win."

Let's face it: George W. Bush was not the Republican nominee because he's smart, a good leader, or even remotely a good person to have as President. He was the nominee because a bunch of people thought he was likely to win based purely on campaign-based issues. Voting based on the odds that a candidate will win the race is a great way to end up with exactly what we've had for the past seven years, regardless of what party you favor. Don't vote based on the odds that a candidate will win the election. Vote based on the odds that the candidate will actually be a good leader.

Telling people that a vote of conscience is a vote thrown away is telling people that they should always vote for the most likely candidate to win their own party's nomination. It's telling Republicans that they should always vote for someone like Bush, and that they should never vote for a Republican that might not be a disaster. It is telling them that voting for Bush was actually a really smart thing to do, because it was the most likely vote to put their party in power, even if Bush turned out to be the Worst President Evar.

What is wrong with us?
posted by The World Famous at 12:06 PM on November 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


... don't get self-righteous when someone tells you that your bacon and eggs ain't gonna make it to the White House.

That's not what we're being told. What we're hearing is, "You voting for a loser prevented my winner from winning." Which not only says we shouldn't vote our consciences, it completely ignores the demonstrated fact that your 'winner' wasn't one.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:07 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


chunking express: The democrats do fuck all right now. You can't run on a "we're not as crap as those dudes over their" campaign forever.

Why the hell not? The Republicans seem intent on keeping that a correct claim forever.

Politics is about who wins. Sorry.
posted by spaltavian at 12:08 PM on November 1, 2007


Kirth Gerson: Which not only says we shouldn't vote our consciences,

You shouldn't. You can, but I don't think you should. It's your vote, but there's nothing wrong with me telling you how you should use it. Nader is.
posted by spaltavian at 12:10 PM on November 1, 2007


Nader is what? Telling me how to vote? Please note that every single candidate for every single elected office is also telling me how to vote. The ones who are paid-for industry lapdogs can kiss my ass, and I still won't vote for them.

As for "You shouldn't," you, sir are the problem.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:14 PM on November 1, 2007


If your conscience tells you to vote for Bush, you shouldn't. Sorry if that makes me part of the problem.
posted by found missing at 12:19 PM on November 1, 2007


Yes, Nader is telling you how to vote. Just like Gore and Bush and Kerry and Clinton. So why get in a huff when someone else does?

As for "You shouldn't," you, sir are the problem. What problem is that? That politics is about power? That was around before me.

I think it's a problem that people are so petulant they'd risk the presidency of George W. Bush to make a point that no one listens too.

If the Democratic Party moved in the direction you wanted them to, they wouldn't have a chance in any presidential election ever. The Democrats aren't ignoring you as much as being smart enough not to commit suicide to placate you. I don't see what's so noble about voting your conscience under the circumstances.

Voting is a tool, not the storybook quasi-religious experience the American myth makes it out to be. Use it how you want, but I'm going to use it in a way that works.
posted by spaltavian at 12:25 PM on November 1, 2007


Ah, but my conscience would never, ever tell me to do that. Did you miss what I wrote about paid-for industry lapdogs? You seem to be telling me I should vote for one of those, if they are likely to win, as long as they aren't Bush. I'm telling you, as I told the lapdog the Democrats put up last time, that I will not do that.

Voting against your conscience is a great way to elect politicians who don't have one. I guess you think it's been working out well, because you want me to do it, too.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:29 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


If the Democratic Party moved in the direction you wanted them to, they wouldn't have a chance in any presidential election ever.

So they moved in the other direction, and became Republican Party Annex. The point of which is what? Having a one-party system, instead of a two party system?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:32 PM on November 1, 2007


And... we're back full circle, where there is no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. That is exactly where Nader was so wrong.
posted by found missing at 12:34 PM on November 1, 2007


You'd have a point if there was no difference between Bush and Gore/Kerry. That thesis has been disproved.
posted by spaltavian at 12:34 PM on November 1, 2007


The Dems moved to the center, where the votes are. Even if they have become the the Republican Party Annex, (which they have not), the Republicans in the meantime have been moving too. To a scary place.

You'd rather vote for the Greens, I'd rather vote for the Libertarians. But I care more about what happens after I step out of the voting booth than what happens while I'm in it. I can't live in there, it's too small.
posted by spaltavian at 12:39 PM on November 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


And... we're back full circle, where there is no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. That is exactly where Nader was so wrong.

so you've said. now suppose lieberman had been the presidential candidate instead of gore. should i still have voted dems? it's not at all outside the realm of possibility that one day we'll routinely have pairings like that: a dubya vs. a lieberman. in fact, at the rate things are going now, without some viable candidate who can tug at least slightly leftward on this piece of crap system of ours, i predict all we'll ever have are lieberman vs. dubya style pairings, because that's all the money game will allow (since the biggest money contributors playing are the guys who need strong, pro-defense candidates in the game and the biggest money candidates are the ones likeliest to win, and therefore, the ones you've said i have to support).

then who the hell should i vote for? and what difference will it make either way?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:41 PM on November 1, 2007


Even if they have become the the Republican Party Annex, (which they have not), the Republicans in the meantime have been moving too. To a scary place.

A scary place where the votes are. Does that mean the Democrats should also move to that scary place?
posted by The World Famous at 12:46 PM on November 1, 2007


That thesis has been disproved.

Because you say so? Please bring me up to date on how the Democratic Congress has been making all kinds of changes since they convened. Oh - I forgot - they don't have the votes to show that they believe differently. They can only vote for bills that are winners, after all. It would be pointless and divisive to vote for something just because it's right.

Nader voters didn't cause this mess. People who think it's a football game, where winning is the only thing caused it.


The Dems moved to the center, where the votes are

They moved to the right, where the Republican votes are. Next time around, they may get a bunch of those, but a lot of traditional Democrats are probably going to either sit it out, or hold their noses and vote for whatever turd their party serves up. Why are none of these "Democrats" promising to repeal the Patriot Act, or roll back the rich-man's tax cuts, or restore habeus corpus? Why are the ones who are in Congress not trying to do those things even if they won't succeed?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:47 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


While it's might be true that Gore/Kerrey would not have gotten us into Iraq (but then again, who knows?) ... I fail to see the vaunted "difference" between the parties manifest itself in any way, shape or form in the current congress. What exactly changed? Which elements of that mandate that swept them into office are they eagerly trying to enact?
posted by RavinDave at 12:47 PM on November 1, 2007


what objectively makes those particular assholes the ones who might win?

Check out my previous post if you want to know why most elections for the foreseeable will have a Democrat or a Republican as the winner. It's not because the Democrats or Republicans are meanies, but because the basic facts of mathematics and the design of electoral systems make it extremely difficult for any third party to win office in a winner-take-all electoral system. Clapping your hands, closing your eyes, and believing in fairies isn't going to bring Tinkerbell back to life, and it isn't going to elect Ralph Nader in a winner-take-all electoral system either.
posted by jonp72 at 12:49 PM on November 1, 2007


The reason why Republicans have generally been very successful in the last decade is because they march in relentless lockstep and get every last voter out to vote for their man. Even when, objectively, the party candidate clearly cannot represent the best interests of every voter. Yes, the clever selection of hot-button issues by the party leadership is often a catalyst.

By contrast, Democrats scatter pell-mell in every direction, whinging and hand-wringing over absurdly non-productive issues and making a mockery of the premise of a big-tent Democratic party. I'm imagining a very detailed political cartoon where some heinous individual sets fire to the hotel in which the Democratic political convention is taking place, with lots of people scurrying around in the foreground arguing the various merits of buckets or hoses, water or fire extinguishers or sand - which is more enviro-responsible, what sends a better 'message', which represents an unconscionable compromise of their personal principles.

If there were such a fire, I would be willing to go back into the building and try to pull people out. But I wish the other people in that hotel would be willing to pledge themselves to a similar level of mutual commitment.
posted by newdaddy at 12:53 PM on November 1, 2007


yeah, well, jonp72, after having been told I can't support Kucinich or Gravel either (both Dems) because neither of them have a chance of winning either, and on and on, i start to get the distinct impression we're chasing our own asses around, and basically just voting for whoever can curry favor with the handful of players in the defense, energy and aerospace industries that control the purse strings and also increasingly own most of the major media outlets.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:55 PM on November 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


it isn't going to elect Ralph Nader in a winner-take-all electoral system either.

We heard you the first time. Getting Nader elected was not the point. Getting the Democrats to wake up to the fact that some of us thought they were going in the wrong direction was the point. Like you, they missed it, and redoubled their efforts to be just like those winners, the Republicans. Guess what - if you offer most people a choice between an original and a cheap imitation, most of them will choose the original. Trying to get Republican votes is the most stupid thing the Democrats can do right now, and they're doing it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:56 PM on November 1, 2007


Actually, by getting GWB elected, and getting us into this folly of war, you probably did more to wake up Democrats and bring them together than you can imagine. Kudos.
posted by found missing at 1:00 PM on November 1, 2007


found missing: you're a putz. who said anything about not voting for the dem candidate before? i didn't get us into the war, pal. but thanks for being so smart.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:03 PM on November 1, 2007


The no difference between rep-dem people have some responsibility for the mess we're in. And, I am a putz (but not one who voted for Nader).
posted by found missing at 1:08 PM on November 1, 2007


Actually, by getting GWB elected, and getting us into this folly of war, you probably did more to wake up Democrats and bring them together than you can imagine. Kudos.

I see you also missed the part where I live in Massachusetts. Even if I had ignored my conscience completely and voted for Bush, it would have done nothing to further his getting elected. Nor did my vote for Nader do anything to further Bush getting elected. If you want to blame me for the war, please go back and find someplace - anyplace, where I said it was a good idea, or anything but a supremely bad idea. Then see where all these winner-voters stood on the issue. Where were you, for instance?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:16 PM on November 1, 2007


In the state of frustration, where I currently still reside, imagining an alternative history, pissed off really at obstinate Nader, but not at the people who voted for him as much (sorry if I got carried away).
posted by found missing at 1:24 PM on November 1, 2007


yeah, well, jonp72, after having been told I can't support Kucinich or Gravel either (both Dems) because neither of them have a chance of winning either, and on and on

I'm not against the Dems nominating an antiwar candidate. In fact, I think this country would have been a lot better off if Nader had run in the Democratic primaries in 2000, instead of running a quixotic third-party campaign. The basic point is that, unless we revolutionize how our electoral system is designed (which is not likely to happen in the near future), the most politically viable route to pursuing antiwar goals or any progressive goals at all is through the Democratic Party. If you don't like the Democrats we have now, then it's necessary to recruit and fund better Democrats. On the other hand, I might wake up next morning, and the electoral system might magically change into a proportional representation system that facilitates the growth of third parties. If that happens, then I would gladly cast more votes for third party candidates.
posted by jonp72 at 1:33 PM on November 1, 2007


By the way, if you are left of center and you want to promote the development of third parties, what you need to do is to fund a third-party challenge against the Republicans from the right. Republicans have funded Green Party candidates based on this principle. Why can't Democrats wise up and fund some pro-life, Tom Tancredo moonbat third party challenge that draws votes away from Rudy McRomney? Tit for tat, I say.
posted by jonp72 at 1:36 PM on November 1, 2007


jonp72: voting for the democrats isn't going to revolutionize anything. If you want change, you can't keep doing the same thing.
posted by chunking express at 1:38 PM on November 1, 2007


well, i for one am a card-carrying green who voted for gore (but who might well have voted for mccain, had he gotten the republican nomination way back when), and for all the sympathy i have for the "for god's sake don't f-this up again, america" sentiments expressed here, i think that voting for a candidate solely on the basis of whether or not they're electable is a sure-fire way to guarantee we get more and more of the same year after year.

the front-runners in american politics will always be the candidates whose positions are friendliest to the defense and energy industries because those are the biggest wealth-generating industries in the US and the front-runners according to popular opinion are always the candidates able to pull in the most campaign funding.

and you're kidding yourself if you think the democratic party doesn't have plenty of liebermans eager to run on the ticket who are just as willing to bomb iran as bush is.

that puts the entire american political system on the right, and there's no mechanism whatsoever, systematically, to ensure balance.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:49 PM on November 1, 2007


where's the candidate willing to show leadership in addressing that problem?
posted by saulgoodman at 1:52 PM on November 1, 2007


Hmmm, judging from the way the Democrats have voted since regaining power in 2004 I'm of the mind that Nader was probably right. There is no left left in Congress. There's corporate right and there's corporate middle. The Dems talk a good game but when it comes time for action they fold like a house of cards. How can you expect change when both Republicans and Democrats are paid by the same companies?
posted by any major dude at 1:55 PM on November 1, 2007


where's the candidate willing to show leadership in addressing that problem?

as soon as it looks like those kinds of candidates actually have a real chance of changing things, they tend to die from mysterious "massive coronaries", small aircraft crashes, and late night single car accidents on lonely roads.

upon reflection, i guess it rarely comes to that though: usually, there's some scandal or another that the media -- which constantly gives itself awards for "hard-hitting" journalism -- dutifully plays up to diminish mavericks in the public eye.

by the way, in addition to the defense and energy industries that you pointed out, don't forget big pharma and the healthcare industry as part of the powers that really be.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:45 PM on November 1, 2007


This is going to come as a blow to you conscience voters, but the South Carolina Democratic party has just rejected Stephen Colbert's application to get on the ballot.
posted by found missing at 3:14 PM on November 1, 2007


"jonp72: voting for the democrats isn't going to revolutionize anything. If you want change, you can't keep doing the same thing."

Really? How much change have you gotten out of voting for third-party candidates?

Voting is ALWAYS a practical compromise based on your least-worst option. Unless you're an idiot, your ideal candidate will a) likely not exist, and b) never get the requisite number of votes to win an election.
posted by klangklangston at 3:33 PM on November 1, 2007


i've voted for dems twice now and look where it got me.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:39 PM on November 1, 2007


How much change have you gotten out of voting for third-party candidates?

Exactly as much as you've gotten voting for corporate Democrats (or not voting, or whatever you actually did). At least by voting my conscience, I can feel like I tried to do good, instead of choosing bad person A over worse person B.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:49 PM on November 1, 2007


spaltavian writes "If the Democratic Party moved in the direction you wanted them to, they wouldn't have a chance in any presidential election ever."

Yeah, and George Bush won by compromising? The Republican Party built themselves up a la Gingrich by moving to the middle? Yeah, right. That's what Democrats have been doing since they sacrificed McGovern. Hasn't worked very well. The only candidates who can make it work are those ultra charismatic types like Bill Clinton, and you can't build a party on one person's charisma. What we need are leaders, not triangulators. As brilliant as Bill Clinton was as a politician, he didn't do much to advance the party (especially with the DLC).
posted by krinklyfig at 3:50 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've hated Ralph Nader ever since I read my signed copy of Crashing the Party. The mind boggling self-infatuation, constant name dropping, and holier-than-thou sanctimony drips off every page.

Whatever his intellect and noble intention, people need to recognize that he is an idealogical zealot.

I have little doubt he would watch this country burn to the ground just to say "I told you so."
posted by uri at 3:53 PM on November 1, 2007


uri: that's part of why ultimately i didn't vote for nader. still, the need for substantial reform of the party-system is a real one, and becoming more urgent all the time.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:00 PM on November 1, 2007


Name a current politician who's not an egotist.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:00 PM on November 1, 2007


psmealey writes "The power is too entrenched, and the overwhelming majority of people are too risk averse (John Anderson 5%, Ross Perot 9%) to vote for reform."

I think you forget what effect those people have on the elections, aside from the votes themselves. They are able to inject debate into the process and shake it up. No matter what the outcomes tend to be (at least in recent history), our system also allows more than two parties. So, unless that changes, I suggest that those people who complain that third parties are worthless should better spend their time and energy working to change our Constitution to restrict elections to two parties only. Until then, might as well not fight it, because there will be third parties as long as they are allowed to take part.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:01 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


And I do think that's what the lawsuit is about.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:03 PM on November 1, 2007


It's worth noting that the only people who have used a variant of the word "entitled" in this thread are on Nader's side.

Seriously, no one is saying you're obligated to vote Democrat, whether it be for Gore or Kerry or Lieberman or Zell Miller. Just that voting for a reasonable (if imperfect) Democratic candidate would have been the pragmatic way to get your voice heard. Worse yet, the alternative you chose wasn't just impractical, it was outright ineffectual in a way beyond just "pity, my candidate lost."

Do the math. Assume a roughly equal balance between liberal and conservative support. If a liberal-leaning party like the Greens gained significant ground, what would happen?

Let's say they started to reliably get a tenth of the electoral votes. Would we start getting a Green president one in every ten times? No, it would never happen. Would we get a democratic president four in ten times? No, it would never happen. Would we get a liberal president five in ten times? No. It would never happen. Just conservative after conservative, term after term.

Let's say the Greens really bolstered their support, and got 40% of the electoral votes. Well that's just the same math in reverse. No democrats, greens, or liberals in proportion to their public support. THEY WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. Just batshitcrazy from now until the rapture.

And hey, for extra credit let's imagine the Green party really conquers the liberal landscape, getting all of its 50% of the electoral votes. Well now there's a Green president half the time and we getting idealistic dopes whining about how the Greens and the Republicans are the same and Nader shouldn't feel "entitled" to the liberal vote. Support the Teal Party!

Reread this thread. Several people have made the point that our constitutionally-defined electoral mechanism effects a two-party system, and all the "entitlement" rhetoric in the world won't change that. Third parties that run on any platform besides amending those rules are only damaging their part of the political spectrum. That's why people hate Nader. That's why some people might take unethical steps to prevent third-party candidacies. That's why you get flamed when you start getting holier-than-thou and acting like your naiveté makes you a better citizen than us.
posted by Riki tiki at 4:24 PM on November 1, 2007 [5 favorites]


Why aren't we allowed to vote against Nader on his own terms? It doesn't have to be about third parties. He said he's opposed to "feticide"; said that Jeb Bush should do anything necessary to save Terri Schiavo; said he'd vote for Bush over Gore; stabbed the Green Party in the back by campaigning in swing states over the objections of his advisors. And that's just the tip of a very large iceberg of reasons not to vote for him.

Is the issue supporting third parties in general, or Ralph Nader? Those are two very, very different questions.
posted by spiderwire at 4:28 PM on November 1, 2007


so when we get that lieberman ticket i still have to vote dem riki tiki and spiderwire? your attempts to back voters like me in a corner and scold us aren't helping your case (and i'm one of the voters who have voted for "your guys" in the past). your arrogance is an incredible turn off to a lot of voters, and if the dems don't stop playing the stupid good cop/bad cop routine at some point, it's going to stop working completely.

the only difference between the dems and the greens is that people think the dems are legitimate. your reasoning, pragmatic as it seems, is all utterly circular. and that's all it will ever be, no matter how often you repeat it.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:34 PM on November 1, 2007


spiderwire--missed your last comment.

i agree. i'm not necessarily pro-nader, but definitely pro-third party friendly reform.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:36 PM on November 1, 2007


spiderwire--missed your last comment.

i agree. i'm not necessarily pro-nader, but definitely pro-third party friendly reform.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:36 PM on November 1, 2007


and all the "entitlement" rhetoric in the world won't change that

silly me--thinking i'm "entitled" to vote for candidates who share my political beliefs!
posted by saulgoodman at 4:37 PM on November 1, 2007


In this system it is far more effective to use your vote strategically to vote against the candidate who least shares your political beliefs.
posted by found missing at 4:42 PM on November 1, 2007


Clue: If that candidate's backers are also backing your candidate, then you might not be using your vote strategically.
posted by found missing at 4:44 PM on November 1, 2007


jonp72: voting for the democrats isn't going to revolutionize anything. If you want change, you can't keep doing the same thing.

Revolutionize? I'm just trying to keep things from changing for the worse. Simply setting the clock back to 1993 would be an improvement over what we have now.
posted by jonp72 at 4:54 PM on November 1, 2007


OK, then, a slightly more specific question -- assuming the goal is third-party reform, why is the Presidential campaign a necessary part of that project?

I'm actually good friends with one of the very few elected Green Party officials in the country, so this isn't an entirely abstract question for me. I support him, and, more importantly, I'm not at all convinced that this obsession with the Presidential campaign is actually all that conducive to his goals or the Party's goals.

I would like to know what the proposed balancing mechanism is between resources spent on the Presidential campaign (in the interests of a putative coattail effect, I suppose) that could otherwise be spent on local campaigns.

Here's two additional questions in that regard:

First, assuming that the Presidential campaign is a given, do you support the swing-state strategy Nader pursued in 2000, over the objection of his advisors and, arguably, to the detriment of the Green Party and its 5% goal?

Second, if we're solely concerned about the 2004 election, then do you support Nader's independent campaign over Cobb/LaMarche, and how do you distinguish between the two? Even if the large/small party distinction is valid, I'd like to know how it applies if there's a series of fractured parties with similar agendas but under separate banners -- if none is morally objectionable in the way the Democratic party supposedly is, then that setup seems counterproductive for third-party reform in general, and -- I would think -- an argument against Nader 2004.
posted by spiderwire at 4:56 PM on November 1, 2007


It's worth noting that the only people who have used a variant of the word "entitled" in this thread are on Nader's side.

Why is that "worth noting"? Do you imply some deeper meaning that escapes everyone else? It's bountifully obvious that the Dems feel entitled to my vote, elsewise they wouldn't go out of their way to blame, insult, hector and harass me for withholding it.

Seriously, no one is saying you're obligated to vote Democrat, ...

Actually, they are. That's the whole point. They usually frame it like you did (Nobody is saying 'XYZ', but let me just say 'XYZ'.) Or, maybe they may prettify it in euphemisms and weasel-words, but the subtext is there: "It's our vote! How dare you cast it for the candidate of your choice!" How is that not "entitlement"?

That's why you get flamed when you start getting holier-than-thou ...

pot.kettle.black And extra chutzpah points for using "holier-than-thou" against someone you just called "naive" in the same sentence. I'm guessing you can't even see why that's ironic.
posted by RavinDave at 5:00 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman: I'd like to calmly ask you to reread my post. Specifically the part at the beginning. More specifically, the italicized part at the beginning. I'll reproduce it for you here for convenience:
Seriously, no one is saying you're obligated to vote Democrat...
Don't vote for someone you hate. Lieberman's a warmonger and might as well change his last name to the letter R. And before you say how Lieberman was on the ticket in 2000, I'd like to calmly ask you to read this insightful comment by jonp72. Hell, I'll just reproduce it for you here. For convenience.
You're forgetting that we didn't have the precedent of Dick Cheney as an all-powerful Veep in 2000. I would have rather had Lieberman going to the funerals of foreign dignitaries (which is what most Veeps did before Cheney) than as a United States Senator. Besides, if Gore had won in 2000, he could have dumped Lieberman in 2004, much like FDR dumped Henry Wallace before settling on Harry Truman.
If you think the Dems' policies are all wrong and the Greens' are all right, then vote Green. Your vote is still wasted, but in the benign it's-all-part-of-the-process way that my Kerry vote was wasted in 2004. But if you think (absent any third option) that Democrats are preferable to Republicans then your current voting habits are counterproductive to your beliefs. The entirety of your beliefs... not just the demagoguery of your beef with the two-party system.
posted by Riki tiki at 5:01 PM on November 1, 2007


Well, in fairness, Cheney wasn't the first VP to do something other than go to funerals. Gore did fundraising from the White House, after all.
posted by The World Famous at 5:06 PM on November 1, 2007


RavinDave: the only comment in this thread that implied that Dems have any sort of automatic claim on Green votes was this one and I think it was clearly tongue-in-cheek. As I see it (because I know how much credibility you'll give to my perspective) beyond that is just Nader supporters bristling at what they've conditioned themselves to hear.

We're just drawing on the legitimate recognition that many of the Green voters aren't hellbent on the single issue of destroying the two-party system. Statistically, they probably would've voted for Gore over Bush in 2000 if there hadn't been a Nader campaign. Not because the Dems would've appropriated their votes with jackboots and semiautomatics, but because the Green party and the Democratic party aren't that different in ideology.

Furthermore, neither you nor saulgoodman seems to be saying anything about the bunkerbusting argument. It's not enough to just vote for a third party, the actual barrier to a multi-party system is the twelfth amendment. The constitution doesn't care how offended you are.

You may not believe this, but I don't like the two-party system either. I vote Democrat as a personal compromise to some of my values, because it's the way to get the weight of my voice behind most of my beliefs. But, if you started a campaign to really fix the system, to eliminate the majority-takes-all, to add a complex voting system that would obviate the need to vote strategically, I would be all for it!

But that's not your focus. You've put the kettle on the wrong stove and you're expecting the water to boil anyway. And dammit, the lit stove isn't entitled to the kettle.
posted by Riki tiki at 5:24 PM on November 1, 2007


If you think the Dems' policies are all wrong and the Greens' are all right, then vote Green. Your vote is still wasted, but in the benign it's-all-part-of-the-process way that my Kerry vote was wasted in 2004. But if you think (absent any third option) that Democrats are preferable to Republicans then your current voting habits are counterproductive to your beliefs. The entirety of your beliefs... not just the demagoguery of your beef with the two-party system.

It's not demagoguery when a member of the voting public sincerely holds a popular position, btw--only when a politician exploits a popular view insincerely for short-term political gain. I'm not a demogogue--I'm a demographic, thanks.

But my belief is that both parties are subject to the same corrupting influences, that both parties have been and continue to be complicit in policies that are antithetical to fundamental democratic principles (remember, it was Clinton who first instituted extraordinary rendition, though his use of the mechanism was drastically less egregious), and that serious, substantive reform to the entire political process is desperately needed.

that said, as i've pointed out already, i voted for gore. but i am a member of the green party.

and for what it's worth, i do think nader should have backed down before the election. but that's only because under the current system, third party votes are problematic in presidential races.

what really sickens me, though, is the short-sightedness of those of you arguing for the two-party status quo. even if hillary does turn out not to be as much of a republican-lite candidate as i fear, it's only a matter of time until a round of primaries yields a lieberman vs. dubbya type scenario. then what? believe me, after it happens once, there will be no going back to a democratic party that tolerates anything remotely resembling "progressive" voices. already, progressives like kucinich and gravel are ruthlessly marginalized.

and don't you see the unavoidable long-term outcome of supporting only "electable" candidates when the primary metric we use to gauge electability is the amount of money a candidate's campaign pulls in--money that inevitably comes from the same financing sources regardless of which party the candidate represents? it's a rightward drift, because since WWII, the defense industry has been where the money is, and so long as defense-friendly politicians win, that will only continue to be true, just as eisenhower and others predicted.

with neither party willing to stand up for the public campaign financing system, there can be no real difference in the underlying constituent interests of the two parties. both parties ultimately answer to the same core constituents. they don't represent the public interest, they represent the interests of those who finance their campaigns, and the legislative records of politicians of both parties glaringly reflect that reality. so, sure, bush nominated a right wing stooge like roberts to the supreme court, but the democrat-controlled legislature barely hesitated to confirm him.

all that said, i'll admit, right now, the dems represent the best short-term chance for postponing the further collapse of our democratic institutions. whether or not they'll demonstrate the political vision or leadership needed, if given the opportunity, to reverse the tide remains to be seen. i'll likely give them my vote, but i'm not going to hold my breath.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:53 PM on November 1, 2007


Maybe instead of flogging Nader voters for still adhering to their rationalizations for what they did eight years ago in the polls, we should instead be saying something like this;

"Hey all you Greens and Libertarians and extreme left-wingers - we could use your help here in the 2008 elections. If you cast your votes for the Dem candidate, we'll get you all a place at the table in helping define planks for the platform, and a voice. We all need to work together on this one, or the Republicans are going to pick an even worse president in 2008, and the rest of the world is relying on us to not send it to hell in a handbasket. The principles this country was built on really are at stake here. In order for all the bad things W did (your list here) not to become precedent, we need a reasonable person in the Oval Office to undo the most heinous of them, even if it means reducing somewhat his or her own executive power.

We can squabble about the party's direction during the primaries, and we can squabble in an actual working party convention (rather than the show-pieces produced recently) and we can squabble from the comfortable perch of power for the next four years, if we hang together now and take advantage of profound unrest in the electorate to get someone on the nominal Left elected. If we don't, none of us will have any planks, any say, any voice at all."

The general election is not the most effective place to "send a message" to your Democratic leadership. By then, it's too late. If they win the general election, they will know that they did it without your protest vote, therefore they didn't need you in the first place. If they lose, no one cares anyway - everyone just goes home and blogs acrimoniously for the next four years.
posted by newdaddy at 8:15 PM on November 1, 2007


I asked: In politics, one's actions and especially their consequences are more important than their motives. What were the actual consequences of Nader's 2000 campaign?

BigSky: This is heinous bullshit.

To make my position clear: I'm not blaming Nader for the Iraq war. Back in 2000, nobody could have predicted 9/11 and then the Iraq war. But it was clear that Bush was a right-wing ideologue; that, as Harry Levine puts it, on a whole range of domestic issues, a Bush presidency would be worse for ordinary Americans.

Of course Nader's campaign was only one factor in the 2000 outcome--the weaknesses of Gore's campaign, the media, the electoral college, the ballots in Florida, and finally the Supreme Court's outrageous decision were all more important factors. But it was clear months before November 2000 that it was an extremely close race between Bush and Gore, and that Nader's campaign was strengthening Bush and weakening Gore. Jonathan Chait (linked by spiderwire): ... by peeling off substantial blocks of liberals in states such as Oregon, Minnesota and Wisconsin, he forced Al Gore to devote precious time and money to shoring up states that would (if not for Nader) have been safely Democratic, leaving him fewer resources for swing states such as Ohio, Tennessee and Florida.

So I think it's fair to say that Nader's campaign did contribute substantially towards putting Bush in office in 2000; that it was predictable well in advance that this was a plausible outcome; and that it was already clear that a Bush administration would hurt the people Nader was claiming to be trying to help.

That said, I think what really gets people here is that in 2004--after the war in Iraq, after Abu Ghraib--it was abundantly clear just how terrible the Bush administration was. And yet Nader ran again, with financial support from the Republicans. WTF?

As others have pointed out, liberals tend to reject tragedy as the basis of their outlook.

"Others"? That was me, quoting Hans Morgenthau. Morgenthau again, on the importance of actions and consequences:
Realism, then, considers prudence--the weighing of the consequences of alternative political actions--to be the supreme virtue in politics. Ethics in the abstract judges action by its conformity with the moral law; political ethics judges action by its political consequences. Classical and medieval philosophy knew this, and so did Lincoln when he said: "I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
Morgenthau also discusses at length why motives aren't so important:
To search for the clue to foreign policy exclusively in the motives of statesmen is both futile and deceptive. It is futile because motives are the most illusive of psychological data, distorted as they are, frequently beyond recognition, by the interests and emotions of actor and observer alike. Do we really know what our own motives are? And what do we know of the motives of others?

Yet even if we had access to the real motives of statesmen, that knowledge would help us little in understanding foreign policies, and might well lead us astray. It is true that the knowledge of the statesman's motives may give us one among many clues as to what the direction of his foreign policy might be. It cannot give us, however, the one clue by which to predict his foreign policies. History shows no exact and necessary correlation between the quality of motives and the quality of foreign policy. This is true in both moral and political terms.

We cannot conclude from the good intentions of a statesman that his foreign policies will be either morally praiseworthy or politically successful. Judging his motives, we can say that he will not intentionally pursue policies that are morally wrong, but we can say nothing about the probability of their success. If we want to know the moral and political qualities of his actions, we must know them, not his motives. How often have statesmen been motivated by the desire to improve the world, and ended by making it worse? And how often have they sought one goal, and ended by achieving something they neither expected nor desired?

Neville Chamberlain's politics of appeasement were, as far as we can judge, inspired by good motives; he was probably less motivated by considerations of personal power than were many other British prime ministers, and he sought to preserve peace and to assure the happiness of all concerned. Yet his policies helped to make the Second World War inevitable, and to bring untold miseries to millions of men. Sir Winston Churchill's motives, on the other hand, were much less universal in scope and much more narrowly directed toward personal and national power, yet the foreign policies that sprang from these inferior motives were certainly superior in moral and political quality to those pursued by his predecessor. Judged by his motives, Robespierre was one of the most virtuous men who ever lived. Yet it was the utopian radicalism of that very virtue that made him kill those less virtuous than himself, brought him to the scaffold, and destroyed the revolution of which he was a leader.

Good motives give assurance against deliberately bad policies; they do not guarantee the moral goodness and political success of the policies they inspire. What is important to know, if one wants to understand foreign policy, is not primarily the motives of a statesman, but his intellectual ability to comprehend the essentials of foreign policy, as well as his political ability to translate what he has comprehended into successful political action. It follows that while ethics in the abstract judges the moral qualities of motives, political theory must judge the political qualities of intellect, will, and action.
If actions and consequences are so important, how are you supposed to assess them, given that you can't predict the future? You can still identify a plausible range of outcomes, and figure out what the worst-case scenario is. Eric Bergerud:
Bismarck in particular never thought that events could be predicted with precision. When a policy was pursued a range of outcomes could be expected. The trick was to develop policy where the minimum outcome (today we might call it a worst case scenario) was acceptable. If a triumph ensued great. If it was something in between, don't die of surprise.
posted by russilwvong at 9:34 PM on November 1, 2007


Seriously, no one is saying you're obligated to vote Democrat, ...

Have you been reading the same thread as me? People are bitter that Nadar ran and people voted for him. Now, if people are saying he shouldn't have ran, and that people shouldn't have voted, then, you know, the election results would have been the same. And judging by how much griping is going on in this thread, I don't think people really want that.
posted by chunking express at 7:05 AM on November 2, 2007


russilwong,

The quote from Eric Bergerud describes a realistic, perhaps even optimal, way of facing the future and making decisions. But your comment regarding consequences and some of the other rhetoric damning Nader to the lower pits is not consistent with that.

A very clear distinction needs to be drawn between actions, that is, the decision, and consequences and in both your writing and Morgenthau's that appears to be muddled. While I agree with Morgenthau's claim that motive is not of particular importance he contrasts motives with consequences while conflating actions and consequences. His subject does not require a focus on this distinction but ours does. Look at the sentences on Chamberlain and Churchill. Chamberlain had good intentions for all mankind and the consequences of his policies were disaster for millions, Churchill had inferior motives from which gave rise to superior policies. Policies and consequences are tied together as if there is a necessary relationship. And there isn't. But apparently, despite my issues with your phrasing we aren't in any real disagreement.

I do not agree that it was clear a Bush presidency would be worse for ordinary Americans. This has been tossed around like it's a fact but it's not. Your link to Harry Levine's ruminations on motive does not convince. Not everyone takes the perspective of a staunch liberal. Many radicals think well of the "heightening the contradictions" tactic. It would be a lengthy derail to get further into it so I'll leave it at that. This isn't about my politics or yours or anyone's but Nader's. It is entirely possible that he doesn't see a substantial difference between Bush and Gore (yes, really). There doesn't seem to be anything that gets his goat more than the political power of large corporations. Should anyone be surprised that Nader considers Bush and Gore two peas in a pod after NAFTA? Look around at the coverage of NAFTA from those years. Gore campaigned tirelessly on behalf of the corporations. I think you and a number of the other posters are claiming far greater insight into Nader's head than there is warrant to do. Ironic, considering your lengthy quotations from Morgenthau.

If you commit to running a campaign, your supporters expect you to take it seriously. In this election I favor Ron Paul. His chances are slight. Everyone who backs him knows it. And still, we expect him to go the distance and play to win, to campaign for president. There isn't anything more disrespectful to the public than to go all out for half of the campaign and then announce that it's all just theater. Well, damn, if the (alleged) candidate feels that strongly about the difference between the two front runners, maybe he should have been promoting and campaigning on behalf of his choice from the start. Nader going for it to the end isn't evidence of malice on his part. That said, I do agree it was plausible to consider that his campaign would be of benefit to Bush. But that also doesn't mean his absence would have meant a win for Gore, despite it being a close election. It's not "everything as it was but no Nader", the whole campaign would have been different. Putting all of this agency and responsibility on Nader is little more than scapegoating.

No one is complaining that Nader changed the course of the 2004 election. Those who felt that strongly about the Bush presidency knew Nader didn't have anything to offer. I think what gets people's goat is that they expect others to do their will. And that's what makes some of us throw around the word 'entitled'. Nader doesn't owe 'humanity' or 'the Left' noninterference in presidential elections. By the way, these sorts of arguments don't do Democrats any good. It makes them look dismissive of choice.

Finally, I wasn't referring to you in my comments on tragedy. For one example of 'others' see Thomas Sowell's, _A Conflict of Visions_ where the tragic vision is contrasted with the utopian.
posted by BigSky at 8:05 AM on November 2, 2007


the actual barrier to a multi-party system is the twelfth amendment. The constitution doesn't care how offended you are.

So, viable new parties are effectively impossible, because of the Constitution? Well, then, I guess I have to vote for the Whig candidate.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:16 AM on November 2, 2007


“you insult people for voting their conscience and then think you can brow-beat them into voting for the candidate you prefer? and then you have the gall to wonder why dems keep losing elections?” - posted by saulgoodman

Look, saul, it’s “us” versus “them.” If we don’t vote Stalin, Hitler might get in. We must all simply cast our vote with whomever is most likely to beat the evil...uh...other guy, whoever that is. And blindly trust in the system to produce a candidate the spontaneously respects us rather than *gag* addressing the flaws in that system and voting for candidates who will change it.
And of course there’s no way anyone could have a bit from column A, a bit from column B. There’s only “liberal” and “conservative,” you couldn’t have a “conservative” who is pro-choice, that’d be insane, and a pro-gun liberal? Don’t get me started how laughable that is. No, you can’t have people running around thinking whatever they want those philosophies are -and must be - tightly controlled (in order to beat the other guy).
You see, only candidates who beat the dreaded other guy and derive their position through investment in the system status quo will be willing to actually change the system to lessen the chance of other’s in their party getting elected. We all have to act perfectly alike even if we don’t think perfectly alike in order to beat the other guy. In beating the other guys who only want evil, we will produce good. Even if it’s not the good that, y’know does any good for us or is even harmful. Still, it’s better than those other guys, right?

Here is a guy actually working to change the system, and people piss all over him and call him a traitor. Unfuckingbelievable. Most “liberals” wouldn’t know a liberal if he radically altered the system, they’d be too busy arguing he’s rocking the boat too much.
You have serious 3rd party candidates addressing issues you want taken care of, looking to change the form of elections, amending the rules, and the stranglehold monopoly on the media for any kind of political debate and you’re more than willing to not only fuck those people over in favor of some rich assheads who have repeatedly proven themselves willing to turn their backs on you, but even if they go and do something on their own, you run them down as scum and lock step in march with your betters.
So that’s “liberalism”, eh?
Hell, I thought I was conservative (and weirdly, pro-choice), but compared to some democrats here I look like I’m a bomb throwing Anarchist.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:35 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


(well defended points btw saul)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:36 AM on November 2, 2007


Viable new parties are not effectively impossible. But they would have to replace one of the two parties, as three parties cannot coexist.

But the two party system is, in the end, not much different than most, if not all, multiparty systems. In multiparty systems, smaller parties have no power unless they build coalitions with other parties, and the overall outcome is centrist government. Within a two-party system, there is a continuum of varying political belief and methodology within both parties, and that allows for representation of the same political views that would be represented if there were separate parties who claim to hold beliefs/views along the continuum.

In a presidential race, there is no point to a third party, since the candidate who will win is the one with the most broad-based support. In order for a third-party presidential candidate to do anything other than spoil the race for one of the other candidates, he/she would have to have the same broad, centrist approach that folks here decry. That hardly solves anything.

The fact is that if you're hoping that someday there will be a victorious presidential candidate who wins in spite of the fact that he/she espouses political views opposed to those of the majority of the people who vote, you shouldn't hold your breath. Yes, the majority is stupid. But it's the majority, and it wins, no matter how dumb it is. Any political party that hopes to win must pander to those who cast the votes. The fact that the Democrats' pandering has consisted for the last decade of mocking the values of the majority, telling the citizens that they're idiots, and pushing policies that are horribly offensive to millions of Americans hurts them far more than Nader ever could.

The Republicans tell Americans that America is awesome, that other countries are bad guys, and that people trying to teach America's children about gay sex are bad, among other things. That message, as much as many people may disagree with it, resonates with millions and millions of people.

Americans think that the Democrats tell them that America is irresponsible, disgusting, and immoral, that Americans are destroying the world militarily, economically, and environmentally, that rich people with Hybrid cars are ethically and morally superior to people who drive 10-year-old used cars they can afford, and that the way to fix our problems is not to focus on economic recovery, sound fiscal policy, getting out of Iraq, improving national security, stopping torturing people, or anything else that might actually help, but instead focusing on issues that will never go anywhere, such as abortion. That message resonates with some people, but apparently offends more people than Bush's horrible policies and corruption. And to make matters worse, Democrats and, moreso, their supporters come off as being such smug, self-righteous, jerks that millions of otherwise rational, intelligent people just want to stick it to them by voting for anyone but the people who are running on a platform of "if you don't vote for me, you're an idiot, idiot."

And now, when a lawsuit is filed accusing the Democratic Party of a litany of unlawful, unscrupulous, and unethical actions, the response from Democratic supporters is apparently not that the claims are without merit, but that it doesn't matter whether the Democratic Party is a criminal organization with no ethical rudder, because Bush is bad, Nader is stupid, and Democrats should be in office no matter what Democrats believe or do.

My conscience tells me that I'll have blood on my hands no matter who I vote for in 2008. But if I don't vote at all, or if I vote for anyone other than the Democratic candidate, I can be sure of one thing: Democrats will tell me I'm stupid. Because telling people they're stupid is the only thing Democrats can agree on.
posted by The World Famous at 9:58 AM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


In the American electoral system, especially as it is currently rigged with massive amounts of money on all sides, lesser-evilism (klangklangston summed it up as "Voting is ALWAYS a practical compromise based on your least-worst option.") is a trap. The Democratic Party is the "black hole of social movements"; progressive causes that get wrapped up within the party have a way of being defused and set aside. And while the Democrats' role is different from that of the Republicans, it's neither positive nor progressive.

Take universal healthcare. This is actually a pretty common opinion -- we should have some plan for health coverage as a society. There was momentum for it before the '92 elections, and that got put toward Clinton and his Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. But the Democrats managed to not even have a debate on the subject! It's coming into consciousness again, and the Democratic candidates all have some proposal, but in no place is it a very good one. And the Democrats will undoubtedly either screw it up or hope it goes into obscurity again.

Anything the Democrats touch becomes their fief; abortion, labor, civil rights, the current attempts to gain antiwar hegemony. But every one of these things is botched by the same Democrats. Abortion rights have been under a piecemeal attack in many states, which in many cases (ex. the ban on d&x procedures or the parental notification laws) the Democrats are complicit in. And increasing numbers of Democrats are abandoning pro-choice principles; Harry Reid is not even pro-choice. Organized labor got squat throughout the Clinton presidency, even as the Dems' largest constituency. Even the handful who are indebted enough to the labor tops that they have to talk about card-check (a good thing, mind), don't talk seriously about repealing anti-union laws like Taft-Hartley or Landrum-Griffin. Antiwar, of course, is the big obvious thing these days: the Democrats have managed to outdo even themselves in terms of pathetic opposition. Any attempt to actually gain the stated aims is brushed aside as "impractical" even though the majority of the country is against the war these days.

But as long as progressive-minded people in this country continue to vote for Democrats, we'll continue to move backward. The club of "but they're the only alternative" is true in a sense. Not only is the system flawed (the 12th amendment issue pointed out heavily), but the machines and financing of the major parties makes beating them in a straight electoral fight impossible. Independent political action is necessary, but it needs to be combined with taking politics to the streets and away from the Democrats and Republicans. Governments can't ignore mass public opinion indefinitely; they can be forced to act. But people need to get over the illusion that the Democrats will do even an iota of the work for them.
posted by graymouser at 10:35 AM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


graymouser:
The club of "but they're the only alternative" is true in a sense.
Um, in the sense that in a first-past-the-post system, it's definitionally true?

The World Famous:
And now, when a lawsuit is filed accusing the Democratic Party ... it doesn't matter whether the Democratic Party is a criminal organization with no ethical rudder, because Bush is bad, Nader is stupid, and Democrats should be in office no matter what Democrats believe or do.
I think you may be projecting past the Nader bit, which seems somewhat germane, since he's the one filing the lawsuit.
Americans think that the Democrats [Green Party / Ralph Nader / liberal strawmen] tell them that America is irresponsible, disgusting, and immoral, that Americans are destroying the world militarily, economically, and environmentally, that rich people with Hybrid cars are ethically and morally superior to people who drive 10-year-old used cars they can afford, and that the way to fix our problems is not to focus on economic recovery, sound fiscal policy, getting out of Iraq, improving national security, stopping torturing people, or anything else that might actually help, but instead focusing on issues that will never go anywhere, such as abortion. That message resonates with some people, but apparently offends more people than Bush's horrible policies and corruption. And to make matters worse, Democrats [Nader] and, moreso, their [his] supporters come off as being such smug, self-righteous, jerks that millions of otherwise rational, intelligent people just want to stick it to them by voting for anyone but the people who are running on a platform of "if you don't vote for me, you're an idiot, idiot."
Fixed.

Smedleyman:
Here is a guy actually working to change the system, and people piss all over him and call him a traitor.
Why do otherwise rational people like you give Ralph Nader this eternal free pass for being a shithead because General Motors got pissed at him 40 years ago? He said that Jimmy Carter had been "corporatized" and has been accelerating into wackjob territory ever since. What is the deal here?

I don't understand how someone can say he's against "feticide" and that Terri Schiavo Must Be Saved At All Costs and still get to keep his Righteous Defender of the Left cred. It's astounding.
You have serious 3rd party candidates addressing issues you want taken care of, looking to change the form of elections, amending the rules, and the stranglehold monopoly on the media for any kind of political debate and you’re more than willing to not only fuck those people over in favor of some rich assheads who have repeatedly proven themselves willing to turn their backs on you, but even if they go and do something on their own, you run them down as scum and lock step in march with your betters...
...And the way you achieve this is by splitting their party...

...wait for it...

...by running on an independent ticket in 2004 and siphoning votes off the Cobb / LaMarche party ticket. Oh, and you piss the Democrats off, too. But mostly it's the Green Party that gets royally fucked, strictly speaking.

BigSky:
In this election I favor Ron Paul. His chances are slight. Everyone who backs him knows it. And still, we expect him to go the distance and play to win, to campaign for president.
Last I checked, Ron Paul was running as a Republican.
I think what gets people's goat is that they expect others to do their will. And that's what makes some of us throw around the word 'entitled'. Nader doesn't owe 'humanity' or 'the Left' noninterference in presidential elections. By the way, these sorts of arguments don't do Democrats any good. It makes them look dismissive of choice.
Personally, what gets my goat is that he's a hypocrite and a scumbag, but it doesn't help that he's filing a lawsuit on behalf of "third parties" when he doesn't and didn't represent a third party.
Nader going for it to the end isn't evidence of malice on his part.
Running on a separate ticket in 2004 is evidence of malice towards the Green Party. Concentrating the campaign on swing states rather than the blue states (if 5% is really the metric) is evidence of placing self-interest and anti-Democrat policies over the interests of the Green Party.
That said, I do agree it was plausible to consider that his campaign would be of benefit to Bush.
Indeed, Ralph Nader himself has admitted that on multiple occasions, both with regard to the 2000 and 2004 elections, before and after. He stated his preference for Bush over Gore. He expressed no contrition or concern about the fact that his campaign was backed by Republican donations.


This thread is shameful. I am still waiting for at least a halfassed response to the questions I posed earlier, namely:

(1) Assuming the goal is third-party reform, why is the Presidential campaign a necessary part of that project?

(2) What the proposed balance between resources spent on the Presidential campaign that could otherwise be spent on local campaigns?

(3) Do you agree with the swing-state strategy Nader pursued in 2000, as opposed to the plan his advisors supported?

(4) Do you support Nader's independent 2004 campaign over the Green Party Cobb/LaMarche ticket, and how do you distinguish between the two?
posted by spiderwire at 6:17 PM on November 2, 2007


(1) Assuming the goal is third-party reform, why is the Presidential campaign a necessary part of that project?

Third-party presidential bids have, for practical purposes, no chance of success in terms of winning an election. However, they are effective in other dimensions, such as movement-building. While I didn't support Nader in 2000 or 2004 and wouldn't do so now if I had a time machine, I think in general principle third-party runs are useful because they allow people who are not indebted to either of the two parties to get out and spread ideas and build parties and movements, and for voters to make their dissatisfaction with the two-party system felt. If you think that progressive political gains are won primarily in the streets, and I do, part of what you have to do is work to build a core of people who aren't looking to the Democratic lesser evil for solutions. In a lot of cases, it's disappointment that teaches this lesson. The Democratic supporters forget how much left credibility Clinton's run to the right actually cost. In a very real way, Nader's campaign was the realization of that cost.

Trying to play realpolitik about it and voting for the lesser evil is a trap, as I said. This isn't an exaggeration or some kind of lofty polemic; a large part of the antiwar movement effectively stood down for most of 2004 so as not to embarrass Kerry, who was running on an objectively pro-war ticket. This was disastrous for the movement, and it didn't even get Bush out of office. I agree with you that Nader was a bad choice for this kind of opposition, particularly in 2004 when he was sort of courting the Reform Party's reactionary wing, but the thing is that failing to break with the Democrats means adapting to their rightward moves, even if you start out with the best and most progressive intent.

What they do is simple. First, there's the bait -- a vocal progressive candidate, like say Kucinich, or really whoever you like. But the party bigwigs knock down that idea, and say that they need a candidate who's more "electable." That means more right-wing. And there's the switch, you wind up with a candidate who doesn't really represent you, but you have to support him or her because the alternative is worse. And that means please don't touch on sensitive issues X, Y, or Z during the campaign season, you need to win after all, and you may be given a promise of action on this or that issue once the election's done. But then when they win, you find out that all of a sudden they have to make compromises and they manage to throw away even the token left measures they promised. Meanwhile, you've wasted months, time, energy, and the crucial momentum and timing for a movement on an electoral campaign that doesn't really get you anything. The forces on the ground -- the grassroots, the real social movements -- have been demobilized and you need to start from scratch, practically. And that's why the Democrats are the graveyard of progressive movements. What a third party candidate means is that these forces don't have to stand down for some career politician who's completely alienated from popular opinion and dependent on corporate cash.

And for those who doubt that political power is really in the streets and movements, the '60s and '70s really said otherwise. Vietnam was escalated out of control under a Democratic president who had won as a "peace" candidate in 1964. It was ended by a Republican president who set the 20th century standard for unmitigated corruption, and had to resign in disgrace. Also won under Nixon were Roe v. Wade and the creation of the EPA. Nothing comparable happened under subsequent Democratic presidents.
posted by graymouser at 7:09 PM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


What they do is simple. First, there's the bait -- a vocal progressive candidate, like say Kucinich, or really whoever you like. But the party bigwigs knock down that idea, and say that they need a candidate who's more "electable." ...

... this argument is self-contradictory. There wasn't a binding primary system during the period you're discussing, so there wasn't any sort of negotiation of the sort you're positing. The party bigwigs just selected the candidate.

And for those who doubt that political power is really in the streets and movements, the '60s and '70s really said otherwise. Vietnam was escalated out of control under a Democratic president who had won as a "peace" candidate in 1964. It was ended by a Republican president who set the 20th century standard for unmitigated corruption, and had to resign in disgrace.

That doesn't make any fucking sense at all. If grassroots opposition wasn't able to effect a withdrawal from a war prosecuted under multiple Presidents -- Democrat and Republican -- why does that indicate that the Presidency is a useful target for the grassroots? How does this connect up with "movement-building"? The only relevant independent campaign during the period you're taking about was run by George Wallace.

Also won under Nixon were Roe v. Wade and the creation of the EPA. Nothing comparable happened under subsequent Democratic presidents.

I'm not sure where to start with this. Is your argument that a Supreme Court decision and an Executive Order -- by the President you call uniquely corrupt -- are examples of the success of progressive movements? What does this have to do with third-party Presidential runs?

And again, why does this indicate that the Presidential campaign is a necessary component of third-party / progressive reform, especially if it comes at the cost of financing local elections?
posted by spiderwire at 8:07 PM on November 2, 2007


Ethereal Bligh said (and many others echoed the sentiment of) "He didn't just run for President, his message was that there was no difference between Gore and Bush [...]"

FWIW, in this 8 minute Nader interview by Max Blumenthal from July 2007 [YouTube] you can hear Ralph Nader's own responses to that line, and several others in this thread:
Blumenthal: Do you still see no difference between the republicans and democrats after seven years of George W. Bush?

Nader: I never said there was no difference. I said the similarities between the two parties tower over the dwindling real differences. And, when you talk about differences, it isn't just differences in agendas. For example, the republicans went into Iraq, I don't think the democrats would have. Clinton was bombing, many times, Iraq, but I don't think he would have been stupid enough to invade it. But, so you can say, there is a difference between republicans and democrats. But, did the democrats stop Bush, as they could have in the Congress, from invading Iraq? No. Many of them voted for that war resolution.

Blumenthal: So, if Al Gore was president now, you think everything would be the same, and we'd be in the same position we are now with the environment, the war, the economy, international relations?

Nader: Given his record as Vice President, yes, it wouldn't be that much different, except for the war. [...]
posted by finite at 10:04 PM on November 2, 2007


"it wouldn't be that much different, except for the war."

Mmkay.
posted by spiderwire at 10:17 PM on November 2, 2007


you have to support him or her because the alternative is worse. And that means please don't touch on sensitive issues X, Y, or Z during the campaign season, you need to win after all, and you may be given a promise of action on this or that issue once the election's done. But then when they win, you find out that all of a sudden they have to make compromises and they manage to throw away even the token left measures they promised.

Token measures like ending the war and restoring basic rights, for instance. Has the Democratic Congress done anything to stop the Bush agenda?

If grassroots opposition wasn't able to effect a withdrawal from a war prosecuted under multiple Presidents

Spiderwire, you're stating your belief as established fact. Most observers credit the antiwar movement for forcing the government to end the war. Because you don't want to give it that credit doesn't make them wrong. Roe v. Wade did not happen in a vacuum, and Nixon's establishment of the EPA was most definitely a response to the environmental movement. I see you're in law school. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm guessing you weren't alive when Nixon was President. That means all of your knowledge of what went on then is filtered through a very limited set of other people's accounts. As somebody who was alive then, and who served in the Army in Vietnam, please take my advice and stop making pronouncements about the effect of 60s popular movements. You're sounding pretty ignorant.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:24 AM on November 3, 2007


Speaking as somebody who
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:24 AM on November 3, 2007


spiderwire: How does this connect up with "movement-building"? The only relevant independent campaign during the period you're taking about was run by George Wallace.

On this thread I mostly agree with spiderwire, but on this particular issue I think graymouser has a point: Eugene McCarthy's 1968 Presidential campaign was a rallying point for the anti-war movement.

Not sure whether Nader considered trying to contest the Democratic nomination in 2000.
posted by russilwvong at 7:27 AM on November 3, 2007


Nader: I never said there was no difference. I said the similarities between the two parties tower over the dwindling real differences.

Sure, that's not much different from Ethereal Bligh's characterization. (Other well-known lines: "Tweedledee and Tweedledum," "there isn't a dime's worth of difference.")
posted by russilwvong at 7:29 AM on November 3, 2007


KG: Spiderwire, you're stating your belief as established fact. Most observers credit the antiwar movement for forcing the government to end the war.

Cite, please?

Your assumption about my age is wrong, but nevertheless I'm not in the mood to be suckered by someone calling me "ignorant," so I'm just going to politely point out that you missed my point: regardless of any putative connections between grassroots movements and the War, the organization of the EPA, or Roe v. Wade (the link being debatable in each case, and to differing degrees), graymouser wasn't making any plausible connections between those issues and the Presidential campaign.

Bracketing the effectiveness issue, the question is, again, why reform movements should be concerned with the campaign at all; even if your characterization is correct, that strikes me as counseling against concern with the Presidency. Perhaps you'd like to restate your objection in those terms.

On this thread I mostly agree with spiderwire, but on this particular issue I think graymouser has a point: Eugene McCarthy's 1968 Presidential campaign was a rallying point for the anti-war movement.

That was actually going to be my next argument; the only salient "movement" campaign in the relevant period (Wallace being the only third-party campaign) was McCarthy's, and he ran on the Democratic ticket. The fact that the most effective "movement-building" campaign of the era was major-party-linked seems to put lie to the notion that third-part campaigns are necessary to the crystallization of reform movements.

Perhaps more significantly, it was McCarthy's campaign that disrupted the 1968 Convention and opened the door for an open, binding primary; that's both a starting point for third-party reform in that it provides some mechanism for progressives to shift the median vote in the primary, as well as tangible proof that reform movements can be perfectly effective within the party structure. In fact, you could make a good case that McCarthy's campaign not only made the later progressive presidential campaigns possible, it had a much more significant effect than any campaign the Green Party or Ralph Nader has ever run.
posted by spiderwire at 11:41 AM on November 3, 2007


Back in 2000, nobody could have predicted 9/11

Except for the Hart-Rudman Commission.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:30 PM on November 3, 2007


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